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Italian journalists freed in Libya

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Freed journalist: 'Driver was killed'
  • NEW: The journalists were saved "by two Libyans to whom we owe everything," one says
  • NEW: They saw their driver killed, another says
  • One of the journalists called his newspaper and reported that the four were beaten
  • They were kidnapped in Tripoli on Wednesday

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Four Italian journalists kidnapped by unknown assailants in Libya have been freed, Italy's Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari told CNN on Thursday.

They were "saved by two Libyans, two boys to whom we owe everything," one of the journalists said Thursday.

"I'm alive, well and free. Until an hour ago, I thought I was dead," the reporter, Sono Domenico Quirico, said, according to his newspaper La Stampa.

Another of the journalists, Elisabetta Rosaspina, told CNN they were kidnapped in Tripoli between Martyrs Square and Moammar Gadhafi's compound. Earlier reports said they had been abducted 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) from Tripoli.

Claudio Monici, a correspondent for the newspaper Avvenire, said they were seized by the Libyan army and "other people with guns."

"We understood that they were very angry. Their eyes had blood," he said, saying some of their captors said: "You are Italian. You are from NATO. You are bombing us."

Monici saw their captors kill their Libyan driver, he said.

"He understood that it was his last moment. We saw them kick him and kill him... When they shot at him I saw that he was praying... I saw that his lips were moving," he told Sky News.

American writer escapes Libyan prison
  • Journalism
  • Kidnapping
  • Libya
  • Italy

Massari said while it was unclear who captured the journalists, the ministry assumed it was pro-Gadhafi forces.

All of the journalists, from prominent Italian daily newspapers, were well, Massari said Wednesday. He did not elaborate.

Paolo Alfieri, foreign editor of the newspaper Avvenire, identified the four as Rosaspina and Giuseppe Sarcina from the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Quirico from La Stampa, and Monici from Avvenire.

Alfieri told CNN that those holding the journalists had allowed Monici to make a call to his newsroom.

Alfieri said Monici's voice was "calm" during the call, and Monici reported that at the time he and the others were "well."

The call lasted about five to six minutes, Alfieri said, and Monici asked him to alert the Italian Foreign Ministry and the other newspapers. Monici did not say anything about what the kidnappers were demanding.

CNN's Hada Messia in Rome and Sara Sidner in Tripoli contributed to this report

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