Italian intelligence officials have claimed that kidnapped aid worker Silvia Romano is alive and was forced to convert to Islam and marry a Somalian man.
The 23-year-old Italian national was kidnapped in Kenya in November of last year and taken prisoner in the village of Chakama, 50 miles from Nairobi.
Intelligence officials said she was then taken to territory in southern Somalia controlled by the radical Islamist organisation al-Shabab. Her captors then forced her to convert to Islam, Il Giornale reports.
The paper claims Italian intelligence heard about Romano’s situation through local sources, but added that there was no reliable information as to her whereabouts or her current status.
Intelligence officials had planned on executing a military intervention to rescue Romano. That option was ruled out in response to news that her captors have taken her to Somalia, which has far fewer reliable allies.
Instead, officials have sought to find the captors and negotiate a ransom for her release. So far, they have been unsuccessful.
Morocco Arrests Three Suspects After Scandinavian Hikers Murdered in ‘Terrorist Act’ https://t.co/vvf4RqzpUd
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The news comes less than a week after one of six Nigerian aid workers was killed after being kidnapped by jihadists in northeast Nigeria.
Charity group Action Against Hunger, which employed the six aid workers, commented: “Action Against Hunger condemns in the strongest terms this assassination and urgently calls for the release of the hostages.”
European women travelling to Africa have been targetted many times in the past by jihadist criminals. Last year, two Scandinavian women were hacked to death in Morocco’s Atlas mountains.
The suspects, who filmed themselves pledging allegiance to Islamic State, had beheaded one of the women. Moroccan and Danish authorities labelled the incident as an act of terror.