Fear is mounting for the safety of Salvatore Santoro, an Italian working in Iraq. A militant group there claims to have killed him and has escorted journalists outside the western town of Ramadi to film pictures of an apparently lifeless body. They have also shown the 52-year-old’s identity papers: an Italian passport and a Lebanese residency permit. Italy says it is treating the claims with caution. A militant group calling itself “The Islamic Movement of the Mujahadeen” says it is behind the alleged killing.
One militant said they killed Santoro because of what he called “Berlusconi’s stupidity” in what seems to be a reference to the Italian prime minister’s support of the US-led coalition in Iraq. Italy has the third largest troop contingent there. Not a great deal is known about Santoro’s activities in Iraq. He is believed to have worked for a British non-governmental organization.