Missing Italians freed in Afghanistan
( CNN ) -- Two Italian soldiers who were kidnapped in western Afghanistan over the weekend have been freed in an operation by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Italy's defense minister said
Arturo Parisi said the military operation took place early Monday in Farah province after the soldiers were kidnapped Saturday night in the Herat region. He said both of the soldiers were wounded -- one severely.
Division Gen. Giorgio Battisti, the most senior official of the Italian military mission in Afghanistan, told CNN the abduction took place as the troops were carrying out their work -- maintaining contacts between military and civilian leaders in the area.
He said he did not know whether the kidnappers were Taliban militants or "common criminals," but noted that many times the line between the two categories was "thin."
Battisti said commanders decided to "intervene immediately" because it is normal practice for kidnappers to swiftly hand over their abductees to others in order to keep them well hidden.
"Our worries were that we would lose track of them or that they would exit the ISAF action zone, making it more difficult for us to find them."
He said the operation was carried out by British and Italian forces. Nine Afghans, the entire group of abductors, were killed.
An Afghan translator and driver who were with the Italians were also found, an Italian Embassy official said, adding that he did not know what condition they were in.