Mr. Mario Belluomo, an Italian engineer working in the Hmsisho steel mill in Latakia, Syria, was kidnapped yesterday near Tartus. Two Russian workers were kidnapped, too.
According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a ransom has already been asked.
The Russian Government, which looks increasingly wary of the Syrian Government, has sent a flotilla offshore the Syrian coast, officially to be ready to evacuate Russian citizens in the country.
The area of Tartus, which also hosts a Russian naval base, was considered safe and staunchly loyalist.
In Italy, the case will be handled by the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Rome District Attorney’s Office opened an official investigation. The Ministry has said it will work to ensure Mr. Belluomo’s liberation together with the Syrian Government. This could be difficult, however, since the Italian Government had just recognized Syrian opposition.
Italy is getting used to the kidnapping of her nationals abroad.
In 2007, Italian correspondent Daniele Mastrogiacomo was kidnapped in Afghanistan before being released some weeks later.
In Iraq, between 2004 and 2005, were kidnapped military contractor Fabrizio Quattrocchi (killed), relief workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta (liberated) and journalist Giuliana Sgrena (liberated). Mrs Sgrena’s liberation resulted in the death of Italian intelligence service officer Nicola Calipari, killed in a friendly fire accident at a U.S. checkpoint while driving Mrs. Sgrena to the airport.