Abducted Italian troops freed in Afghan raid

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ROME, Sep 24 (Reuters) Two Italian soldiers kidnapped in western Afghanistan last week were freed in a raid by NATO-led forces early today, Italy's Defence Ministry said.

''In a raid by ISAF forces in the early hours of the morning the two soldiers who had been kidnapped last Saturday have been freed in the province of Farah,'' the ministry said in a statement, referring to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The soldiers were wounded during the raid to free them, one of them seriously, the ministry said, adding that they had been taken to a hospital.

An Italian diplomat in Kabul said that some suspected kidnappers were killed in the raid, adding it was not clear who the abductors were.

Italy has some 2,200 troops in Afghanistan. More than 600 are in western Afghanistan running the regional ISAF command.

The ministry had said late evening that it believed the two had been abducted while on patrol, together with two Afghans.

Since Saturday, it had lost contact with the two soldiers, who were operating in the Shindand district of Herat province and were responsible for relations with civil authorities.

REUTERS SZ BD1245

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