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Kidnapped Italian Aid Worker Released in Afghanistan

An Italian aid worker held hostage in Afghanistan for more than three weeks was released and will return to Italy on Friday. The Afghan government said it did not pay ransom for her release.

Clementina Cantoni (file photo)
Italians were relieved to hear of the release of 32-year-old aid worker Clementina Cantoni. Her Afghan captors let her go after holding her hostage for more than three weeks.

Ms. Cantoni, who works for the aid organization Care International was abducted in Kabul as she was driving home on May 16th. She was well known for her humanitarian work, particularly for her assistance to Afghan widows.

Her family received the news of her release at their home in Milan. Ms. Cantoni's father thanked everyone for their support during the 24 days his daughter was held hostage.

"At this moment our first thoughts go to those who are in the same situation as our daughter was in, to their families and to relatives of those who weren't so lucky to receive the good news we got," he said. "Everything went well, he said. We spoke to Clementina and she is fine."

Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini expressed "enormous relief" over the hostage's release. He said the Afghan authorities had fully cooperated with the Italians.

"We knew where she was being held and that she was in good health," Mr. Fini said. "We had also been given guarantees from President Hamid Karzai that the Afghan authorities would not directly intervene with their military without the approval of the Italian government."

The Afghan government said no ransom was paid and no concessions were made to obtain her release.

Clemetina Cantoni's parents are now traveling to Kabul where they will meet their daughter and bring her back to Italy on Friday.