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Four Italian journalists taken hostage in Syria freed

Rome:  Four Italian journalists who were being held hostage in Syria have been freed, Prime Minister Mario Monti said in a statement on Saturday.

The four -- three freelancers and a reporter working for the Italian public broadcaster RAI -- had been abducted sometime between April 5 and 6 while out filming in northern Syria.

Monti's statement did not provide any details of how the four were released, only thanking those involved for professionalism that "has enabled a positive outcome of this affair, which was made all the more complicated by the extreme danger of the situation."

Local media reports said the four were currently in Turkey.

In February, an Italian citizen and two Russians kidnapped on December 12 in the west of Syria were freed as part of an exchange for militants.

Abductions for religious, political or purely financial reasons are becoming increasingly frequent in war-torn Syria.

Syria's government on April 2 offered kidnappers an amnesty deal, giving them 15 days to hand over victims or face sentences ranging from life with hard labour to execution, if their victims were murdered or sexually abused.

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