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Terzi: Sandra Mariani is free

“Maria Sandra Mariani is free. I’ve just told her family. I join in their great satisfaction and relief at this wonderful news”. These were the words of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, announcing the release of the Florentine tourist kidnapped over a year ago in Algeria. “My warmest thanks go to all those who helped achieved this positive outcome with such dedication, constancy and professionalism”.

“I’m in heaven! I’m free at last. I’ve thought of you so much and I want to hug you all. I’m fine. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back in Italy, in Rome”. These were Mariani’s first words on the phone to her family.

Maria Sandra Mariani, 54 years old and from San Casciano Val di Pesa, was kidnapped on 2 February 2011 in southern Algeria, in the oasis of Djanet, 90km from the border with Nigeria. The kidnappers were a group of armed men, probable members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). AQMI is a fundamentalist network that controls the huge stretch of desert that goes from Algeria to Mauritania, from Mali to Niger, to Chad and on to Sudan. The same network is holding Rossella Urru, a Sardinian aid worker who was kidnapped in October 2011 in a Saharawi refugee camp in south-west Algeria.

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