Kidnapped Italians released in Mali

April 19, 2010 at 2:24 PM

ROME, April 19 (UPI) -- Two Italians held hostage by al-Qaida terrorists in Mali have been released.

Sergio Cicala and Philomene Kaboure were picked up by Malian troops in the eastern Gao region after intense negotiations involving Italian and Malian diplomats, BBC News reports.

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the release was the product of intense bargaining.

"We had to work for many months on very complex political and diplomatic negotiations," he told Italian state television.

Cicala and his Burkina Faso-born wife were abducted in Mauritania last year. The North African branch of al-Qaida demanded that imprisoned militants to be freed by March 1 in return for the pair's release.

Shortly before the deadline expired, Cicala urged Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to intervene in an audio message posted on the Internet.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
Einstein vindicated: Scientists find gravitational waves
Vatican: Bishops not required to report abuse to police
Nicola Griffin to appear in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at 56
Dementia rates decline in U.S., researchers unsure why
'El Chapo' drug empire's alleged financial operator arrested in Mexico