Turkish intel helps rescue abducted Italian aid worker

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Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) helped rescue a kidnapped Italian aid worker in Somalia, state-run Anadolu Agency said on May 10.

Silvia Constanza Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called African Milele, was abducted in Kenya’s southeastern coastal town of Chakama in Kenya in November 2018. No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

She was found in Somalia, some 30 kilometers outside the capital, Mogadishu, and was released thanks to efforts by the Turkish intelligence agency, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.

“There had been a cooperation with the Turkish intelligence service in the region located her and to take action at the right time,” Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Marina Sereni told LA7 TV channel.

The Italian media stressed that Romano was rescued through joint efforts by the Turkish, Somali, and Italian intelligence services.

Italian authorities requested help from the MİT for the rescue of Romano, daily Hürriyet reported on May 10, citing anonymous security sources.

Upon the request, the MİT started its works in December 2019, to find out the current situation of Romano. After learning that Romano is still alive, the MİT started its operation in coordination with relevant Somali and Italian authorities.

Romano, who was rescued in an operation conducted on May 8-9, touched down at Rome’s Ciampino airport aboard a special flight at about 2 p.m. (1200 GMT).

Escorted by masked men from the intelligence service, she temporarily removed her protective mask to wave as she descended the steps from the jet before hugging relatives waiting for her at the airport. She was greeted by Di Maio and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

In her home neighborhood in Milan, church bells saluted her arrival, with many people on their balconies, SKY TG24 showed.

Romano was expected to meet prosecutors in Rome later on May 10.

“I was strong and resisted,” Romano was quoted by Italian newspapers as saying after her release.

Conte said the task force working to free Romano had been in the final stages “for the last months”, after having proof that she was still alive. He added that details were not disclosed so as to not compromise the operation.

“We are so glad to welcome Silvia back in such a delicate moment for the country. The state is always there, and will always be there,” Conte said.

He thanked the intelligence services, the judiciary, and the defense and foreign ministries, all involved in the release of the woman.

“I am literally bursting with joy at this moment. But it is hard to even only to think, please let me breathe. I need to withstand the shock, happiness is so big that it is exploding,” Silvia’s father, Enzo, was quoted as saying by several Italian newspapers on May 10.

He thanked the intelligence services, the judiciary, and the defense and foreign ministries, all involved in the release of the woman.

“I am literally bursting with joy at this moment. But it is hard to even only to think, please let me breathe. I need to withstand the shock, happiness is so big that it is exploding,” Silvia’s father, Enzo, was quoted as saying by several Italian newspapers on May 10.

Hurriyet Daily News

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