Italian Journalist Freed by Taliban

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An Italian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan two weeks ago was released, and in a video posted Monday on his newspaper’s Web site said he drew strength from the knowledge that Italy “had not abandoned me.”

Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica, was hospitalized in Lashkargah, Afghanistan, where the aid group Emergency is based, Premier Romano Prodi said.

“He is in good health and I expect that in a few days, we will be able to hug him,” Prodi told reporters.

Prodi said securing Mastrogiacomo’s release “was not simple” but did not provide details.

Mastrogiacomo and two Afghans traveling with him were kidnapped March 5 in southern Helmand province’s Nad Ali district. Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility.

His release was announced Monday, but the fate of the two Afghans was not immediately known.

“I’m very happy, thank you all of you. I felt you had not abandoned me, and that gave me strength,” the journalist said in an online video on Repubblica’s Internet site just minutes after his release was announced.

Gino Strada, the founder of Emergency, told Sky TG24 News from Afghanistan, said Mastrogiacomo “is relaxing a little, finally.”

Mastrogiacomo, 52, has worked since 2002 as a staff correspondent in Afghanistan, Iran, the Middle East and Iraq.

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