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Italian diplomat hails release of kidnapped tourist

Bhubaneswar, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 ANI

Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Mar.26 (ANI): Italian Consul General Joel Melchiori has hailed the release of an Italian tourist, Claudio Colangelo, who was kidnapped along with a friend by Maoist rebels in eastern Orissa state two weeks ago.

"As you know one of the Italian persons who was kidnapped was released. We are extremely happy about this positive development. We are now working harder as we did in the past 11 days for the release of the second Italian person, Mr. Paolo Bosusco. We are cooperating on this regard with the local authorities and we hope to have a positive solution as soon as possible," said Melchiori.

Colangelo was taken hostage with tour guide Paolo Bosusco while swimming in a river in the remote district of Ganjam on March 14, in what is believed to be the first time the rebels have targeted foreigners.

The fighters claim they took the Italians because they were taking photographs of indigenous tribeswomen bathing in the river.

Colangelo was released to a group of reporters from Indian news network NDTV.

Melchiori added Italian embassy officials were working with Indian authorities to ensure the release of Bosusco.

"I cannot go into the details of the situation, which is going on now but we are cooperating step by step with the local authorities, with the government of Orissa and Home Secretary," he added.

Colangelo's release comes a day after talks between the government and rebel-nominated negotiators collapsed.

On Saturday (March 24), suspected Maoists kidnapped an Orissa Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), adding to the tension.

Also known as Naxals, the Maoists have fought a decades-long war against the government in a wide swathe of central India. They say they are fighting for the poor and landless, and they often back farmers in land disputes with big business.

The government calls them India's main internal security threat, and an obstacle to higher growth in Asia's third-largest economy.

Analysts believe the kidnappings were designed to draw attention to the plight of tribal people in one of India's poorest regions. (ANI)

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