Italy works toward bringing Baldoni home free

Italy will do whatever is possible to secure the release of an Italian freelance journalist kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents, but will not bow to demands to withdraw its troops, the Italian government said Tuesday.

A statement from Italian Prime Minister's office said Enzo Baldoni was in Iraq on "private activity as a journalist and was absolutely not connected to the Italian government."

But the government is prepared to make every effort to obtain his release, said the statement.

The statement stressed that Italy "would abide by its commitments towards the provisional Iraqi government which was legitimized by a United Nations resolution approved unanimously in June.", reports Xinhua.

An Iraqi armed group gave Italy 48 hours to withdraw its 3,000 troops from Iraq before it attacked Italy and killed the reporter, according to a video broadcast by Doha, Qatar-based al- Jazeera television today. The video showed freelance journalist Enzo Baldoni, 56, who went missing between Baghdad and Najaf and was last heard from on Thursday, holding identification cards, al- Jazeera reported.

"We are working toward bringing Mr. Baldoni home free," the Italian statement said. Baldoni is a civilian and has no ties to the Italian government, it said. Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, suspected of ties to al-Qaeda, threatened attacks on Italy and its citizens in Iraq as long as Berlusconi keeps troops in the country, the group said in statements posted on Islamic Web sites.

At the beginning of August, the group gave Italy 15 days to withdraw its troops from Iraq, informs Bloomberg.

According to Seattle Post, Enrico Deaglio, editor in chief of the news magazine Diario, said in a telephone interview that he was relieved to see Baldoni looking healthy in the video. "He's good, he's in shape. He's not humiliated and he can speak," Deaglio said.

According to an Arabic translation of Baldoni's comments on the video, he said he was a journalist as well as a volunteer for the Red Cross.

Deaglio said the magazine intended to "let the people who have him in custody know what Baldoni has done in the last 10 days in Iraq in his work to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people."

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Author`s name: Editorial Team