Maoists release Italian hostage
Maoists Thursday released Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo after keeping him hostage for nearly a month, official sources said.
"He has been released and has already arrived at Bhubaneswar," a senior state police official said on the condition of anonymity.
Paolo had been kidnapped March 14 with another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, from a forested area of Kandhamal district.
The rebel group led by Sabyasachi Panda had released Colangelo 11 days later as a "goodwill gesture" but had been insisting that the government release at least seven prisoners in exchange for the second Italian.
Paolo's release comes two days after a court acquitted Panda's wife Subhashree Das, one of those whose release had been sought by the Maoists. She had been accused of involvement in a gunbattle between police and Maoists in 2003.
However, the fate of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka, who has been in the captivity of another group of rebels since March 24, continued to remain uncertain as the rebels refused to release him unless their demands were met.
Jagabandhu, the spokesperson of the group, said in a statement written in Telugu and sent to reporters here Wednesday: "We will not release Hikaka unless the government releases all the 30 persons we demanded."
While Paolo was abducted by the Odisha unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Kandhamal district, Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee from Koraput district.