By Libya Herald staff.
Tunis, 20 July 2015:
Four Italian technicians are reported to have been kidnapped yesterday not far from the Mellitah . . .[restrict]oil and gas complex, 100 kilometres west of Tripoli.
They have been named as Filippo Calcagno, Salvatore Failla, Fausto Piano and Gino Tullicardo, all of them employed by Italian construction company Bonatti. The Italian Foreign Ministry says its Crisis Unit is monitoring the case and is in continuous contact with the men’s families as well as the company. It also notes that it had already advised all Italian nationals to leave Libya following the closure of its embassy in Tripoli on 15 February.
The Italian authorities are said to be treating the kidnapping as terrorist related, rather than for simple ransom. At the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels today, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni was reported saying that the four may have been taken in retaliation for Italy’s support for Draft agreement at the UN-brokered Dialogue process.
Hardliners in Libya Dawn are opposed to both the Draft and the Dialogue.
The town of Zuwara, next to the Mellitah complex, supports Libya Dawn although it is not seen ideologically committed to it. Zuwara officials have in the past said that they were able to provide full protection to everyone working at Mellitah.
Bonatti has been involved in the construction of a number of projects at the complex, co-owned by Italy’s energy giant Eni and which gathers oil condensate and gas from offshore fields and the onshore Wafa field. It is near the Algerian border, 540 kilometres south west of Tripoli and some 160 kilometres south of Ghadames.
At the Wafa field it is reported that banners have appeared calling for “Freedom for Gino, Philip, Salvo and Fausto”.
A number of other Italians have been kidnapped in Libya over the past year and a half, almost all for ransom. A year ago, three workers for another Italian construction company working in Zuwara, Piacentini Costruzioni, were seized in the area. Two, a Bosnian and a Macedonian, were released unharmed a couple of days later but the third, Italian Marco Vallisa, was held for another four months. [/restrict]