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Italian journalists kidnapped in Libya call home

Journalists were kidnapped while driving near Zawiya.

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Four Italian journalists were kidnapped in Libya Wednesday and are being held by forces loyal to defiant leader Muammar Gaddafi, an Italian foreign ministry source told the Guardian. The source reportedly said the journalists are being held in the capital, Tripoli.

The journalists were forced to stop their car while driving near Zawiya, a town 30 miles west of Tripoli. The assailants killed their driver, robbed the journalists and gave them to Gaddafi loyalists who took them to Tripoli, the Guardian reports.

(More from GlobalPost: Libyan rebels offer bounty for Gaddafi)

Italy's consul in Benghazi, Guido De Sanctis, reached the journalists and said they were unharmed.

Two of the journalists called their families Thursday, signaling that they may be freed soon, Bloomberg reports.

The journalists “have called home, a positive sign,” Ferruccio de Bortoli, editor in chief of Corriere della Sera, said in a Twitter posting. “The hope that they can be freed is gaining strength."

The journalists are Elisabetta Rosaspina and Giuseppe Sarcina of Corriere della Sera, Domenico Quirico of La Stampa and Claudio Monici of Avvenire, the Guardian states.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebels have offered a $1.7 million reward for anyone who captures or kills Gaddafi. They have also offered amnesty to anyone within his inner circle who gives him up.

Rebels marched triumphantly into Libya's capital, Tripoli, Monday and quickly secured much of the city. Rebels stormed Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound Tuesday. However, gun battles between rebel forces and pro-Gaddafi forces have continued in pockets of the city, and the whereabouts of Gaddafi himself remain unknown.

On Wednesday, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the rebels' National Transitional Council, to discuss next steps. At a press conference with Jalil following the meeting, Sarkozy announced that an international meeting on helping the new Libya will take place in Paris on Sept. 1.