Tag Archives: Italy

Two Hostages Freed in Libya Return to Italy

Two Italian hostages who were captured in Libya returned in Italy, according to media reports.

Two of the four Italian construction workers abducted in Libya last year arrived in Rome early Sunday, days after news of their release and the deaths of the other two.

Gino Pollicardo, 55, and Filippo Calcagno, 65, touched down at Ciampino airport before meeting officials and family, then giving evidence to prosecutors in Rome, Italy’s Ansa news service reported.

The two were not available to speak to the press neither after their release, nor on their return to Italy.

Pollicardo’s and Calcagno’s release was announced on Friday, a day after confirmation of the deaths of Salvatore Failla, 47, and Fausto Piano, 60.The four Bonatti construction company employees were kidnapped from an oil and gas site in western Libya in July 2015.

Failla and Piano are believed to have fallen victim to clashes between Islamist extremists and local militias as the security situation in the North African republic continues to deteriorate.


Evacuation as ferry with 400+ on board catches fire en route from Greece to Italy

466 passengers and crew are being evacuated from an Italian car ferry that caught fire near a Greek island on Sunday morning. The evacuation is being complicated by strong winds and lack of places in lifeboats, according to the media.

Fire broke out on an Italian Norman Atlantic car ferry traveling from western Greece to eastern Italy at around 6.00 am local time (0400 GMT), coast guard officials said on Sunday.

“The captain has requested the evacuation of the ship, according to initial information,” spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos said.

The international evacuation effort including Italian and Albanian forces is complicated by dangerous weather conditions with strong winds blowing in the area northwest of Corfu.

The ferry has 411 passengers and 55 crew on board, as well as 222 vehicles. An official told Reuters that within the framework of the rescue operation 130 people had already been transferred from a lifeboat to a container ship that had been sailing nearby.

A Greek TV station got comments of some passengers, who dramatically described the evacuation.

They tried to lower some boats, but not all of us could get in. There is no coordination,” one said, as cited by Reuters. “It’s dark, the bottom of the vessel is on fire. We are on the bridge, we can see a boat approaching… we opened some boxes and got some life vests, we are trying to save ourselves.

Several people reportedly jumped into the water, but it is unclear whether there are any casualties. However, cold winter temperatures will lessen their chances of survival if this is the case.

Rescue helicopters and a C-130 search-and-rescue support aircraft have been sent to the scene. Seven nearby ships havebeen instructed to take passengers and crew members from the ferry, said Merchant Marine Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, according to AP


Russia ‘forced’ to launch military drills at border in response to Ukraine op – Moscow

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu

Russia has begun extensive military exercises in Ukrainian border area following the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine.

“The order to use force against civilians has already been given, and if this military machine is not stopped, the amount of casualties will only grow,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said during an official meeting in Moscow.

“War games by NATO in Poland and the Baltic states are also not helping the normalization of the situation. We are forced to react to the situation.”

Shoigu said that the drills involve march and deployment exercises by forces in the southern and western military districts, and separate Air Force maneuvers.

Shoigu said that 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers, 160 tanks, 230 armored carriers and at least 150 artillery pieces are involved in the operation against anti-Kiev activists.

“National guard units and Right Sector extremists are fighting against the peaceful population, as well as a volunteer Donbass ‘anti-terrorist’ unit. Also security and internal forces transferred to Lugansk and Donetsk from other areas of the country are suppressing dissent,” the minister said.

He added that Ukrainian sabotage units have been deployed near the Russian border.

In contrast, Shoigu said that the pro-Russian self-defense units number about 2,000 and have about 100 guns between them, which have mostly been taken from local police stations.

“It’s not an evenly matched confrontation,” added Shoigu.

Reports in Ukrainian media suggested that Russia’s show of strength led Ukraine to suspend its ‘anti-terrorist’ operation, due to fears of a potential intervention. Later on Thursday, acting President Aleksandr Turchinov gave an order to resume it, accusing Moscow of “blackmail”, and demanding that Russia pull back its troops from the border.

Pro-Russian activists occupied several key government buildings in provincial towns in eastern Ukraine a fortnight ago. Last week the order was given to re-take them, and fighting has intensified in the past two days, after Turchinov blamed opposition forces of initiating a campaign of abductions and murders. Ukrainian authorities have also repeatedly stated that their opponents are funded by Moscow, and organized by infiltrator agents.

The heaviest fighting on Thursday took place in Slavyansk, with the Ukrainian interior ministry reporting the deaths of at least five ‘terrorists’.

NATO has estimated that Russia has massed at least 40,000 troops near its border with Ukraine. Moscow has not denied that it has moved troops to the region, but said that its internal troop movements are its own prerogative.

NATO began military exercises in Poland on Wednesday, with more scheduled to take place in the Baltic states next week. So far 150 US paratroopers have arrived in the country from their stationary base in Italy, with 450 more set to join them.

Poland’s foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, has also asked the alliance to deploy 10,000 troops in his country.

On Wednesday, USS Taylor, a frigate, became the latest US ship to enter the Black Sea on a rotating deployment. NATO has dispatched a separate rapid reaction force to the Baltic.

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Queen gives honey to pope, who has gift for George

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, exchange gifts with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Queen Elizabeth II has come to Rome for lunch with Italy's president Giorgio Napolitano ahead of the British monarch's first meeting with Pope Francis. Before Francis, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pope Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, exchange gifts with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Thursday, April 3, 2014. Queen Elizabeth II has come to Rome for lunch with Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano ahead of the British monarch‘s first meeting with Pope Francis. Before Francis, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pope Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II — bearing a basket of honey, whiskey and other goodies from the royal estates — paid a visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday. The pontiff returned the courtesy with a gift for Prince George, Elizabeth’s great-grandson.

The Argentine-born pope presented the queen with a stone orb topped with a sharp cross, saying it’s for “el ninetto” — a term of endearment for little child. Elizabeth said George “will be thrilled by that — when he’s a little older.”

The exchange of gifts capped a private meeting of just under 20 minutes between Elizabeth, her husband, Prince Philip, and Francis — with communication facilitated by an interpreter.

Francis did say “Welcome!” in English when the royal couple arrived about 20 minutes late for their appointment.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Elizabeth told Francis. “We were having a very pleasant lunch with the president.”

She was referring to Italy’s head of state, Giorgio Napolitano, who hosted the queen and Philip for lunch at the presidential Quirinal palace.

The white-gloved monarch arrived earlier in the day in Rome wearing a lilac-colored spring coat and hat that matched the wisteria blooming over much of the Italian capital.

Previously, Elizabeth had met with four pontiffs, starting with Pius XII in 1951, a year before her accession to the throne.

Elizabeth is head of the Anglican church. There was no immediate word on what was discussed in the meeting with Francis, who is in his second year as pontiff.

Elizabeth told the pope that the jar of honey in the wicker picnic hamper “is from my garden” at Buckingham Palace. “I hope that is unusual for you.”

Francis looked startled when the prince held up a bottle of Balmoral whiskey from the royal estate in Scotland. Among other goodies were a bottle of cider and a dozen eggs.

The queen’s day in Rome was a makeup visit. Illness had forced her to cancel a 2013 trip to Rome.

“She doesn’t like leaving obligations unfulfilled so she was determined to reinstate that visit,” Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, told Vatican Radio.

via Queen gives honey to pope, who has gift for George – Yahoo News.

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