Italian Wounded in Afghanistan Dies

ROME (AP) — An Italian intelligence agent who was kidnapped with a colleague in Afghanistan and wounded during a rescue operation died Thursday, the Defense Ministry said.

The man had been put on a respirator after he was wounded in the NATO-led raid on Sept. 24, a few days after he and the colleague were abducted.

He died in a military hospital in Rome, the ministry said. His colleague was also wounded, although not seriously.

The death was likely to reinforce calls for the withdrawal of Italy’s 2,000-strong contingent in Afghanistan.

Premier Romano Prodi has so far resisted the calls by radical leftists, who are in his ruling coalition. He has also defended his decision to stage the daring rescue operation, saying that “any other option would have been worse.”

The two Italians working for the SISMI military intelligence service had been kidnapped in western Afghanistan. They were freed by Italian commandos aided by other NATO forces and aircraft as the coalition forces determined the kidnappers had started moving the hostages.

Italian special forces ambushed the convoy, sparking a gunbattle that killed at least eight of the kidnappers. NATO said the two Italians were probably injured by their Taliban kidnappers.

The two returned to Italy for treatment last week.

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