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Italian Hostage Freed in Afghanistan


More than 100 people have gathered in southern Afghanistan to demand more information about the executed driver of a kidnapped Italian reporter.

The demonstrators are outside a hospital run by an Italian aid group in Helmand province. It is not clear if it is the same hospital where Daniele Mastrogiacomo, a reporter for the Italian daily La Repubblica, was taken shortly after his release Monday.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Mastrogiacomo's release resulted from the collective work of Italian authorities, humanitarian officials and the Afghan government.

Mr. Prodi said he was released unharmed.

The Italian reporter was abducted two weeks ago by Taleban militants along with his Afghan driver and interpreter in Helmand province. Just hours after his release, he described for an Italian television station (Tg3) how his driver was decapitated by his Taleban captors. There has been no word on the fate of the interpreter.

Top Taleban commander Mullah Dadullah told news agencies that the Italian reporter was freed in exchange for five Taleban prisoners held by the Afghan government. Afghan officials have not confirmed the exchange.

The kidnappers had accused the reporter of being a spy for foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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