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Indian rebels release 1 of 2 abducted Italians

NEW DELHI (AP) – Maoist rebels on Sunday released one of two Italians who were abducted 11 days ago in a remote area of eastern India.

Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo was handed over to a crew from New Delhi Television, a TV news channel, who trekked to the place where he and Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco were being held.

Colangelo described his experience as “frightening” and told NDTV that he hoped Bosusco would be released soon.

The two were abducted on March 14 while on a trek through a densely forested area of Orissa state. Their Indian cook and driver were released the same day.

On Saturday the Maoists also abducted a local lawmaker in a separate part of the state.

NDTV said its reporters trekked more than 16 hours to meet rebel commander Sabyasachi Panda, who handed over Colangelo.

Colangelo told Italy’s Sky TG24 TV by telephone that he and Bosusco were swimming in a river “when armed men came and forced us to go with them.” He said they were moved around the jungle during their captivity and suffered from the heat, but that the kidnappers “tried to meet our food needs and other things.”

Asked by Italian state TV if any of the kidnappers’ demands had been met, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said, “Paying ransom is outside the policy that Italy follows” on abductions. “I can’t give details about the negotiations between Orissa authorities and the Maoists. Perhaps we’ll have more details after (Bosusco’s abduction) is resolved.”

Police in Orissa have said the rebels were probably holding the men in a hideout deep in the jungles of the state’s Kandamal district.

The rebels have demanded the release of imprisoned comrades and a halt of government operations against them. The government has stopped all security operations in that district.

The rebels, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been fighting in several Indian states for more than four decades demanding land and jobs for farmers and the poor.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgency India’s biggest internal security threat. At least 2,000 police, militants, rebels and civilians have been killed in the conflict.

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Associated Press writer Frances D’Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.

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