Italian hostages killed in Libya,'used as human shield'

Two other abducted Bonatti employees alive says Minniti

(ANSA) - Rome, March 3 - Two Italian hostages, Fausto Piano and Salvatore Failla, workers for an oilfield construction firm abducted in July 2015, were killed in unclear circumstances in Libya Thursday.
    According to one report, they were killed by government loyalists while being moved by a rival militia.
    According to another report, they were killed while being used as human shields during a government attack on an ISIS hide-out.
    It was said to be unsure, however, that they were being held by ISIS, according to the head of the COPASIR parliamentary intelligence oversight committee, Giacomo Stucchi. The fate of two other employees of the Bonatti company was also unclear most of the day until Intelligence Undersecretary Marco Minniti testified to COPASIR that the pair, Filippo Calcagno and Gino Pollicardo, were still alive.
    Calcagno and Pollicardo were captured along with Failla and Piano near a Mellitah Oil Gas Company facility in western Libya, some 60 kms from Tripoli, last summer.
    Piano and Failla were likely not killed as a reprisal for Italy's upcoming role, if requested by Libya, in leading an international coalition in the north African country, officials said.
    The Italian government's priority is now to save Calcagno and Pollicardo, the head of COPASIR, Stucchi, said after Minniti reported to the panel. He said "a rigorous silence must be observed on such a delicate situation". The pair killed "have been recognised using photographic techniques, we hope their bodies will soon be returned to Italy", said Stucchi, who said militias had been trying to regain their positions after last month's US airstrikes in the area.
    He also said Italian intelligence services were present in in Libya, though not necessarily in the area where the fatal shoot-out took place.
    A ransom will likely not be demanded, Stucchi added.
    The two Italians were being held prisoner by ISIS and are said to have been killed on the outskirts of Sabratha while being moved, 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, however, told ANSA Thursday that two Italians "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.
    Piano, Failla, Pollicardo and Calcagno all worked for the Parma-based oilfield construction and maintenance company Bonatti.
    They were captured near a facility of the Mellitah Oil Gas Company, a partner of Italian oil-and-gas company ENI oil and gas company.
    The Italian intelligence services had believed that the abductions were carried out by criminal militias seeking a ransom. 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.
    Northern League leader Matteo Salvini told a House press conference after the reports the two Italians had been killed that "Renzi has blood on his hands in Libya as in Italy. In Italy he roots for and frees criminals, he is an accomplice of international terrorism on immigration." He went on that while the reports of the two slain Italians "are arriving from Libya, (President Sergio) Mattarella boasts Italy is in the vanguard (for welcoming migrants). Let's hope the news is unfounded".
    Former premier Silvio Berlusconi said there was always the risk of victims if "hasty" action was taken.


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