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Afghan Government Optimistic About Italian's Release

Kabul, 28 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Afghan government says it is in contact with the kidnappers of an Italian aid worker and optimistic she will soon be released.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal told a news conference in Kabul today that the kidnappers have given assurances that CARE International worker Clementina Cantoni is unharmed.

"Although we have not talked with Clementina directly, the negotiators or the kidnappers have assured us of her safety and sound health," Mashal said.

Afghanistan's top religious scholars issued a fatwa yesterday calling for Cantoni to be freed and for the safety of legal foreign visitors.

Cantoni was abducted May 16 as she was being driven home in Kabul. (agencies)