Silvia Romano returns to Italy after 18 months in kidnap

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UPDATE : Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker who was kidnapped in Kenya 18 months ago, has been freed and arrived back in Italy on Sunday afternoon.

The Italian government announced her release on Saturday.

Silvia Romano has been freed. I thank the men and women of the external intelligence service. Silvia, we await for you in Italy!,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote on his Twitter account.

Speaking to state broadcaster RAI, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Romano was found in Somalia and was released thanks to the external intelligence agency. “She is now at the Italian embassy in Mogadishu (the Somali capital) and she will arrive in Rome tomorrow on a special flight,” Di Maio said. Asked about the release, Di Maio said he could not reveal any details. Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on its website that Italy paid a ransom to free the woman.

Gunmen seized Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in northern Kenya in November 2018. No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, which brought fears of an upsurge in attacks by militant Islamists.

Police and residents said at the time that the gunmen seized the young woman from a guesthouse in Chakama, a small town south of the border with Somalia and near the coast. The Somali militant group al Shabaab has periodically staged attacks in Kenya, including an attack on a university in April 2015 in which 148 people were killed.

Reuters / ANSA / RAI / Corriere

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