Silvia Romano, an Italian aid worker kidnapped 18 months ago in East Africa, arrived in Rome one day after being freed by her captors. Gunmen seized Romano, in northern Kenya in November 2018.
She was found on Saturday in Somalia, some 30 km (19 miles) outside the capital of Mogadishu.
Romano touched down at Rome’s Ciampino airport escorted by masked men from the intelligence service, she removed her protective mask to wave before hugging relatives waiting for her at the airport.
She was greeted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio. In her home neighbourhood in Milan, church bells saluted her arrival, with many people on their balconies.
Prime Minister Conte said that the task force working to free Romano had been in the final stages “for the last months”, after having proof that she was still alive. He added that details were not revealed so as to not compromise the operation.
“We are so glad to welcome Silvia back in such a delicate moment for the country. The State is always there, and will always be there,” Conte said.
Italian newspapers reported that Italy’s intelligence services had worked with their Somali and Turkish counterparts to free Romano.
“I am literally bursting with joy at this moment. But it is hard even only to think, please let me breathe. I need to withstand the shock, happiness is so big that it is exploding,” Silvia’s father Enzo was quoted