After being kidnapped in Africa, Italian aid worker returns home

Silvia Romano is flanked by two masked security officers as she walks on the tarmac after landing at Rome's Ciampino airport on May 10, 2020. (AP)

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

People applaud from balconies in front of the house of 23-year-old Italian volunteer Silvia Costanza Romano, in Milan, Italy on May, 10, 2020. (AP)

People applaud from balconies in front of the house of 23-year-old Italian volunteer Silvia Costanza Romano, in Milan, Italy on May, 10, 2020. (AP)

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 defense and foreign ministries, all involved in the release the young woman.

“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.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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