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Four Italian journalists taken hostage in Libya

(Xinhua)

08:08, August 25, 2011

ROME, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Four Italian journalists have been taken hostage in conflict-torn Libya as they were travelling from Zawiya to the capital city of Tripoli, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The four Italian journalists, three men and a woman, were reportedly attacked by militias loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on Wednesday as they were driving on a same car near Zawiya in western Libya, local media reported.

Two of the abducted, Giuseppe Sarcina and Elisabetta Rosaspina, worked for the leading daily Corriere della Sera, while Domenico Quirico for La Stampa and Claudio Monici for the main Catholic newspaper Avvenire.

According to reports by state television Rai, their car was apparently stopped by a group of civilians who shot and killed their local driver, assaulted the reporters and then delivered them to several militias, who are now keeping them hostage in a private building in the countryside.

The journalists were robbed of all their belongings, while their satellite phones were seized.

The alarm of their kidnapping was first given by one of the reporters, who was able to call his mother and his newspaper, describing what had happened and reassuring on the good health conditions of his colleagues. Then all communication was cut off.

Gaddafi has repeatedly threatened Italy, promising retaliation for its participation to the NATO-led mission.

In a statement by his office, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he was closely following the developments of the situation together with the Foreign Ministry.

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