LONDON, UK – An Italian man who was taken hostage by Maoist rebels in India 11 days ago has been released.
Claudio Colangelo, one of two Italian men abducted while trekking in India’s eastern Orissa state, was handed over Sunday to three journalists who had travelled to the region, and brought to the local administration, the BBC reports.
Colangelo, 54, who had travelled from Italy to visit the region, told the BBC his captivity had been difficult, but that he had been treated well and hoped his companion, Paolo Bosusco, would also be freed soon.
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Maoist rebels have a strong presence in many eastern states, and say they are battling for the rights of tribal people and India’s poor rural population.
They have been waging an insurgency against national and state authorities for decades in a bid to establish a communist state.
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The abduction of Colangelo and Bosusco, 61, who runs an adventure tourism agency in Orissa, was the first kidnap of foreigners by the rebels in Orissa state.
According to the Agence France Presse, the Maoists had issued a series of demands in exchange for releasing the pair, whom they accused of photographing bathing women, including a ban on tourists visiting tribal areas, an end to military operations against them, and the release of jailed Maoist leaders.
Colangelo’s release comes a day after Orissa rebels kidnapped a local politician, Jhina Hikaka, from the state’s ruling Biju Janata Dal party, further raising tensions in the state, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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