Italian volunteer kidnapped in Kenya freed after 18 months

Silvia Romano, who was seized by gunmen in November 2018, freed near Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

    A police helicopter patrolling near the house where Romano lived before her abduction [File: Reuters]
    A police helicopter patrolling near the house where Romano lived before her abduction [File: Reuters]

    An Italian aid volunteer who was kidnapped in Kenya some 18 months ago has been freed, according to officials in Italy.

    Silvia Romano, who was working at an orphanage in Chakama village near Kenya's southeast coast, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen on November 20, 2018, in an attack that left five residents with bullet wounds.

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    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the 25-year-old's release on Saturday.

    "Silvia, we look forward to seeing you in Italy!" he wrote on Twitter, thanking the country's intelligence services.

    No details were given about the identity or motivation of the captors of Romano, a volunteer with the Africa Milele organisation.

    Italian news agency ANSA reported that the volunteer was rescued by the Italian foreign intelligence service, in collaboration with Turkish and Somali officers, at a location some 30km (19 miles) from Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

    Somalia-based fighters have been blamed in the past for a spate of kidnappings of foreigners along Kenya's coast.

    Raffaele Volpi, head of the Italian parliament's committee on security, said Romano was "in good shape".

    "Obviously she's had a rough time from being imprisoned, but she's OK," Volpi was quoted as saying by ANSA.

    Chakama, in Kilifi county, is about 60km (40 miles) inland from the coastal town of Malindi, which is popular with Italian tourists and expatriates.

    During the 2018 assault, attackers armed with rifles fired indiscriminately at residents and wounded five people, including three children.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies