By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 4 March 2016:
The two Italian oil workers held by IS in Sabratha were free early today when . . .[restrict]local militia raided a house near the brick factory to the south of the town.
Gino Pollicardo and Filippo Calcagno, seized last July, were pictured looking worn and haggard as they phoned their families back home. In a hand-written note Pollicardo explained “We are free and OK physically but we are psychologically DEVASTATED and want to return urgently to Italy”.
The authorities in Tripoli said that they were being taken care of by local security forces . However, this evening there were unconfirmed reports that the pair had been moved to Tripoli and were due to be flown out of Mitiga airport.
Details of the operation to free the men are not yet clear. Only 48 hours earlier two of their colleagues from the Italian Bonatti construction company, Fausto Piano and Salvatore Failla, who were seized with them last summer near Sabratha, died when local forces raided the building where they were imprisoned, said to be 20 kilometres south of Sabratha. A Syrian fighter, a woman and a young child were reported to have been captured but three other terrorist suspects managed to escape, though it has not been said how.
All four men were travelling from Tunisia to the Mellitah gas complex where their employer was working for Italian oil company Eni. They and their Libyan driver were seized when their vehicle was stopped by gunmen. The driver was later freed. Jamal Zubia, head for foreign press head in the Ghwell administration in Tripoli today said that it was believed that the driver had sold them to their kidnappers. He also said that a ransom of €12 million had been demanded. Other sources said that part of that money had been paid.
Sabratha security spokesman Sabri Kshada said that in the last week 46 of the town’s militiamen had been killed in fighting with terrorists. This included the ten men captured and beheaded after IS briefly overran the local security centre. The Tripoli administration is flying journalists by helicopter to Sabratha tomorrow. [/restrict]