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Italian Workers Kidnapped In Libya Freed

Two Italian construction workers kidnapped in Libya have been freed, a local military official has said.

The other hostages may have been killed in a raid by Libya’s security forces on Thursday, the Italian foreign ministry said.

The four were abducted last year near a compound owned by Italian oil group Eni in the western Mellitah area.

Libya descended into chaos since the 2011 Nato-led military campaign that overthrew Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Two rival governments are vying for legitimacy and territory in Libya and the so-called Islamic State (IS) has gained a foothold in some parts of the country.

The two workers were freed in Sabratha, around 70km (43 miles) west of the capital, Tripoli, the head of Sabratha Military Council, Taher el-Gharaballi, told the BBC. The workers are employed by Bonatti, a company that provides services to the oil, gas and energy sector.

Italy closed its embassy in Libya in February, calling on Italians to leave because of the security risks. The Sabratha local brigade has been fighting since last week, when militants briefly overran the city centre and killed about a dozen brigade fighters.

Last month, a US air strike targeted an IS camp on the outskirts of the city, killing about 40 people, including two Serbian nationals who had been held hostage since November. Sabratha is one of several Libyan cities where IS militants have established a presence in Libya. Nine foreign oil workers were kidnapped by IS in March.