Freed Italian aid worker returns home on special flight
ROME (Reuters) - Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped 18 months ago in East Africa, landed in Rome on Sunday a day after being freed. Gunmen seized Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in southeastern Kenya in November 2018. She was found in Somalia, some 30 km (19 miles) outside the capital of Mogadishu, and was released thanks to efforts by the external intelligence agency, Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
ROME (Reuters) - Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped 18 months ago in East Africa, landed in Rome on Sunday a day after being freed.
Gunmen seized Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in southeastern Kenya in November 2018.
She was found in Somalia, some 30 km (19 miles) outside the capital of Mogadishu, and was released thanks to efforts by the external intelligence agency, Italy's Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said.
Romano touched down at Rome's Ciampino airport aboard a special flight at about 2 p.m. (1200 GMT).
"I am well, luckily, both physically and mentally. I now want to spend time with my family. I am so happy to be back after all this time," Romano was shown saying on arrival in a video posted on daily Corriere della Sera's website.
Escorted by masked men from the intelligence service, Romano wore a green tunic pulled up to cover her head but not her face. Italian news agency ANSA, citing investigative sources, reported that she had converted to Islam during her time in captivity.
Romano temporarily removed her protective mask to wave as she descended the steps from the Italian air force jet before hugging relatives waiting for her at the airport.
She was greeted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio.
In her home neighbourhood 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 Sunday.
Conte said that 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 revealed 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 efforts from the intelligence services, the judiciary and the defence and foreign ministries, all involved in the release the young woman.
Italian newspapers reported that Italy's intelligence services had worked with their Somali and Turkish counterparts to free Romano.
"I am literally bursting with joy at this moment. But it is hard 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 Sunday.
(In second paragraph, corrects location where Romano was seized to southeastern Kenya, not northern Kenya)
(Reporting by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Alex Richardson)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.