(ANSA) - Rome, March 3 - COPASIR parliamentary intelligence oversight committee chair Giacomo Stucchi said Thursday two of the four Italian employees of the Bonatti oilfield construction firm kidnapped in Libya in July 2015 are confirmed dead.
"They were recognised using photographic techniques, we hope their bodies will soon be returned to Italy," Stucchi said.
Intelligence Undersecretary Marco Minniti earlier told COPASIR the other two hostages are still alive.
Filippo Calcagno and Gino Pollicardo were captured along with Salvatore Failla and Fausto Piano - both of whom are confirmed dead - near a Mellitah Oil Gas Company facility in western Libya, some 60 kms from Tripoli.
The foreign ministry said Thursday that Failla and Piano may have been killed in a shooting. "As regards the publication of some images of victims of a shooting in the region of Sabratha in Libya, apparently traceable to westerners, the foreign ministry communicates that those images, with the bodies still unavailable, could be two of the four Italian employees of the Bonatti construction firm kidnapped in July 2015," the ministry said in a statement.
The two Italians are said to have been killed on the outskirts of Sabratha, judicial sources said on Thursday. The convoy they were travelling in came under attack by a militia group and all the passengers were killed, the sources said. The bodies were recovered by the militias, they said.
A Libyan witness who is in Tunis after leaving Sabratha told ANSA Thursday that two Italians killed in a shooting "were used as human shields" by ISIS jidahists. The witness said that the two were killed "in clashes" with local militias on Wednesday in the south of the city, in the area of Surman.
Libyan medical sources had previously said that at least seven people were killed on an attack by local militias on an ISIS hideout in the Sabratha area, while two jihadists, a Syrian and a Tunisian, were captured and three others escaped.
Italian intelligence services had believed the abductions were carried out for ransom.
A family member of Pollicardo, a 55-year-old from Monterosso, near La Spezia, said that "we know nothing, apart from what we have managed to glean from the media over the last few hours. We hope for the best".
Renato Brunetta, the Lower House whip for Silvio Berlusconi's opposition centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party, and Lia Quartapelle, a lawmaker for Premier Matteo Renzi's Democratic Party (PD), both requested that the government report to parliament shortly on the reports and on the situation in the chaos-hit North African country.
Giampiero Massolo, the director of National Intelligence and Security Department DIS, on Thursday called for caution. "There are two more lives to save and we must not say things that would compromise ongoing operations," he said. He added: "the area of the shooting is a zone where militias loyal to Tripoli are trying to combat Daesh (ISIS)".
The deaths of the two was likely not a reprisal for an announced Italian intervention in the North African country. "I really don't think so," Massolo told Sky TG24 news.