MILAN – Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped in Kenya 18 months ago, has been released and is expected to return to Italy on Sunday, the Italian government announced on Saturday.
“Silvia Romano has been released. I thank the men and women of the external intelligence service. Silvia, we are waiting for you in Italy!” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote on his Twitter account.
Speaking with state broadcaster RAI, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Romano was found in Somalia and was released thanks to an external intelligence agent.
“He is now at the Italian embassy in Mogadishu (the capital of Somalia) and he will arrive in Rome tomorrow on a special flight,” Di Maio said.
Asked about the release, Di Maio said he could not reveal the details. Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported on its website that Italy paid a ransom to free the woman.
Kenyan government officials were not immediately able to comment on Romano’s release.
Gunmen arrested Romano, who works for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in northern Kenya in November 2018.
No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, raising fears of an increase in attacks by militant Islamist groups.
Police and residents said at the time that gunmen arrested the young woman from a guesthouse in Chakama, a small town south of the border with Somalia and near the coast.
Somali militant group al Shabaab has regularly carried out attacks in Kenya, including an attack on a university in April 2015 in which 148 people were killed.
(Additional reporting by George Obulutsa in Nairobi and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Editing by Frances Kerry)
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