The kidnappers of an Italian journalist in Afghanistan have demanded that Rome pull its troops out of the country in order to secure his safe return. Earlier in the week the captors offered to hand over Gabriele Torsello in return for a Christian convert who fled the country. 41-year-old Abdul Rahman was granted asylum in Italy in March after being charged with leaving Islam.
Torsello was taken by gunmen from a bus last Thursday. “The kidnapped man’s family are confident that he will be coping well with the ordeal, and trying to help the negotiations,” said a spokesman. The kidnappers made their demand through a hospital in Helmand Province, run by an Italian aid agency. The region has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the escalating conflict.
Afghan police say Torsello, a Muslim convert, is being held by the Taliban, but the group has denied any involvement. It blames the criminal community instead.