Italians revel in hostage releases
Three women let go in Yemen; man freed in Gaza
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(CNN) -- Italians rejoiced Sunday with the news that four of their countrymen had been released by separate groups of kidnappers in Yemen and Gaza.
One man, identified by The Associated Press as Alessandro Bernardini, was released in Gaza hours after he had been abducted, Palestinian security sources said.
The AP also reported that Palestinian security forces stormed a building where Bernardini was being held and rescued him after a shootout with the kidnappers, who escaped. (Full story)
Meanwhile, three Italian women were freed by their abductors in northern Yemen, the Yemeni state-run news agency Saba reported.
Two other hostages -- both men -- were still being held, a Yemeni official said.
Sheikh Dirham al Tham'a, secretary general of the council of Ma'rib province, in which the five were kidnapped, said "after three hours of negotiation, we managed to free three women, and we are trying to free the two men."
The kidnappers are tribesmen trying to pressure the Yemeni government to free relatives who are imprisoned, Tham'a said.
In a news release after kidnappings were reported, the Italian government said it was looking into the reported abductions and was in contact with the embassy at San'a, the Yemeni capital.
The reports come one day after five German citizens taken hostage in Yemen were freed. Juergen Chrobog, his wife, Magda, and their three adult sons were taken hostage in Shabwa province while on a guided tour, officials said. (Full story)
Bernardini, the Italian man freed in Gaza, told the media he was treated well by his captors, the AP reported.
"I'm not going to change my ideas about the Palestinians," he said.
A security official told the AP the kidnapping was the work of a small group of radicals affiliated with the Fatah party.
There were no reports of injuries in the shootout, said the AP, which quoted a Palestinian security official who said his forces "stormed the place after we surrounded it."
The incident came two days after a British national who works for a Palestinian aid agency and her parents were freed by kidnappers after they were held hostage for 48 hours. (Full story)
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