Italian aid worker kidnapped in Kenya has been freed

Silvia Romano found in Somalia and released thanks to Italian intelligence agency

FILE - In this August 2018 file photo, Italian volunteer Silvia Costanza Romano, left, poses with local resident Ronald Kazungu Ngala, 19, in the village of Chakama, in coastal Kilifi county, Kenya. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has announced that an Italian aid worker kidnapped in late 2018 while she was working in Kenya has been freed. Conte tweeted Saturday: “Silvia Romano has been freed. Thanks to the men and women of the foreign intelligence services. Silvia, we’re waiting for you in Italy!” (AP Photo, File)
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Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker who was kidnapped in Kenya 18 months ago, has been freed and is expected back in Italy on Sunday, the Italian government announced on Saturday.

"Silvia Romano has been freed. I thank the men and women of the external intelligence service. Silvia, we await for you in Italy!" Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wrote on his Twitter account.

Speaking to state broadcaster RAI, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Romano was found in Somalia and was released thanks to the external intelligence agency.

"She is now at the Italian embassy in Mogadishu (the Somali capital) and she will arrive in Rome tomorrow on a special flight," Mr Di Maio said.

Asked about the release, Mr Di Maio said he could not reveal any 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 available to comment on Romano's release.

Gunmen seized Ms Romano, who was working for an Italian charity called Africa Milele, in northern Kenya in November 2018.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, which brought fears of an upsurge in attacks by militant Islamists.

Police and residents said at the time that the gunmen seized the young woman from a guesthouse in Chakama, a small town south of the border with Somalia and near the coast.

The Somali militant group al Shabaab has periodically staged attacks in Kenya, including an attack on a university in April 2015 in which 148 people were killed.