Four kidnapped Italian journalists have been freed after a raid on a house in Tripoli which they were held hostage for nearly 24 hours.
The Italian Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that their driver was killed by their attackers. Italy has been part of the NATO campaign support the rebel drive against former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
A gang of civilians reportedly had stopped the four Wednesday on a highway between Tripoli and Zawiya, west of the capital, and abducted the group. They were later handed over the loyalist forces supporting the deposed dictator, who slipped out of his Tripoli compound in the hours before it was seized by rebel forces. Qaddafi has since disappeared, although he vowed in a statement broadcast over poor-quality audio tape that he would continue to fight the opposition forces that have taken over the government.
Meanwhile, the freed reporters “are now in a hotel with other Italian journalists,” said a ministry spokesman. “They are well,” he told the AFP news agency.
According to Elisabetta Rosaspina, a journalist from the Turin-based La Stampa, “the jailer left the house overnight,” and two “young people” broke in to free her and the other three reporters. It was not clear who exactly the group's rescuers were.
Along with Rosaspina, Giuseppe Sarcina and Domenico Quirico work for La Stampa and were held as hostages. Claudio Monici, also kidnapped, works for Avvenire, the daily publication of the Italian Catholic Bishops Conference.