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Italian Hostages Freed in Yemen Arrive in Rome


Five Italian tourists who were kidnapped in Yemen and freed Friday have returned to Italy. The former hostages were questioned in Rome before heading home.

The plane carrying the five Italian tourists whose five-day kidnapping ordeal ended positively touched down in Rome early Saturday afternoon. Relatives were anxiously waiting for them to celebrate their return.

Visible on the faces of the former hostages was relief at being back in their own country and exhaustion from their experience. Pierluigi Gamba spoke of his experience after his arrival. He says there were two dramatic moments: the first in the very beginning when they realized what was going on. He said their kidnappers drove like crazy when they took them.

And then, Mr. Gamba said, the last 12 hours and the final three hours when they were told to lie on the ground with Kalashnikov rifles pointed at them.

Patrizia Rossi, one of the women who was taken, said the most terrible moment was when they were being threatened with death in the last few hours.

Another former hostage was asked whether he would return to Yemen after his ordeal.

Enzo Bottillo says his immediate response after his release when he was asked whether he would go back to Yemen was "No". But now, he has changed his mind. He said criminals exist all over the world and unfortunately they came across them.

Relatives meanwhile looked forward to their arrival and prepared a night of celebrations.

This family member said it is an experience he would not wish upon anyone. It is a dreadful experience which affects you inside, he added, it's something you can never imagine will happen and when it does, you need strength and courage because the news was not good, but it all ended in the best possible way.

After their arrival in Rome, investigators questioned the five Italians before they boarded planes to take them to their respective homes in northern Italy.

The three men and two women had been released the day before after Yemeni security forces surrounded the mountain hideout where they were being held. Still unclear is the reason that persuaded their kidnappers to let them go.