ROME (Somaliguardian) –Abducted Italian aid worker Silvia Romano, 25, who had been released by suspected Al-Shabaab members, arrived in Rome’s Ciampino airport at 2 pm local time, wearing traditional Islamic dress.
Speaking to family members and officials at Ciampino after briefing media she said: “ I am very happy and I am well, I converted to Islam without constraints. My kidnappers have always treated me well and with humanity, I am happy”.
Romano was later taken to the Ros Carabinieri barracks, the headquarters of the Italian counter-terrorism Police where the young girl appearing healthy and excited told Rome prosecutors and Ros investigators that she had been treated well during the kidnapping. The hearing lasted 4 hours and the girl has finally reunited with her family.
“I converted to Islam and it was my choice.” she said, adding, “I am calm. During the kidnapping I was always treated well.”
Silvia stated that she had not suffered any violence in the 18 months long of imprisonment spent in the hands of Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia and that she had not been forced into marriage, denying rumors recently spread by the media.
In Ciampino, the girl was photographed smiling with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and her family. She hugged her parents shortly before leaving for the Ros dei Carabinieri headquarters in Ponte Salario to speak with prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco. “I was strong,” said the girl, embracing her parents and sister in tears.
“At this moment of great difficulty there is a signal that the state is there.” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, extending gratitude to the officials who participated in the release of Silvia Romano, an aid worker who had been abducted from Kenya’s Kilifi County in 2018.
“I want to thank on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs all those who have collaborated to bring Silvia Romano back to Italy.” Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said upon his arrival in Rome’s Ciampino airport.
Italian officials said that Turkey and Somalia had participated in the efforts aimed to secure her release, which were instrumental in acting at the right time, according to the Rome based Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.
It’s suspected that Romano was held in areas under Al-Shabaab control in restive south Somalia although the group has not yet claimed they were behind the kidnapping.
There have been speculations that a ransom was paid for the release of the aid worker as has been divulged by former Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, arguing that “nothing happens for free”; however, authorities have not yet discussed how the returning home of Romano has become possible.
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