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Italian govt slammed for allegedly paying AL Qaeda $12m to free 2 female aid workers(Photos)


 While many European countries including the US,UK categorically stated they do not negotiate with terrorists,a furious row erupted in Italy today over claims the government paid Islamic extremists a $12million ransom to free two aid workers held in Syria.

Greta Ramelli, 20, and Vanessa Marzullo, 21, flew back to Rome this morning after they were captured by militants believed to be from Al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra in August 2014.

According to Mailonline,News of their return was applauded in Parliament, but also drew heavy criticism from opposition politicians after Arab media reports suggested a ransom of 12 million euros (£9m) had been paid.
European governments including Italy have long tolerated or facilitated ransom payments to secure the release of hostages although the practice has frequently been denied officially.

The leader of the Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, said on Twitter: 'If the government really paid a ransom of 12million euros to free the two friends of the Syrians, it would be disgusting!'

Lucio Malan, a senior member of the centre-right Forza Italia party, said the government should explain whether a ransom had been paid.
If it were paid 'to save two valuable lives, then thousands of others -- equally valuable -- would be put at risk,' Malan said in a statement.
A ransom payment 'would encourage terrorists, illegitimate entities like the so-called caliphate and simple criminals to take Italians hostage, wherever they may be,'

Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni dismissed the claims as 'baseless', but did not deny directly that a payment had take place.
He told the lower house that Italy is 'against payment of ransom' and follows 'the rules and behaviours' shared by the international community.
 'When it comes to Italians taken hostage, our priority is focused on saving their lives and the physical integrity of our compatriots.'
A report in the New York Times last year said Al Qaeda and its affiliates had made at least $125 million from kidnap ransoms since 2008, most from European governments making payments through proxies.
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