Claudio says they were victims of Maoists-govt tussle

Bhubaneswar: Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo, who was released today after being in Maoist captivity for 11 days, said he became victim of an ongoing tussle between the ultras and the government.

While his compatriot Paolo Bosusco (54) was still held captive by the Maoists, 61-year-old Colangelo told reporters after his release: "We got entangled in the conflict between the government and Maoists. We had little knowledge about the Maoist problem in the region."

Colangelo, who was handed over to a group of media personnel by the Maoists in Kandhamal district and later taken to Sorada in Ganjam district and then to Bhubaneswar, said, "It was frightening and a painful experience."

Stating that he would like to visit the forests of Odisha again, he said, "But I will be scared to enter this jungle (in Kandhamal) again."

He said he had spoken to his wife and his entire family heaved a sigh of relief over his release.

The Italian tourist denied reports that photographs of tribals were being taken by them when the Maoists captured them. "No photographs were being taken."

Regarding reports that police had warned them against entering the jungles in tribal-dominated and Naxal-hit Kandhamal, he said, "On the contrary, we went in only after the police allowed us."

He said the other Italian, 54-year-old Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco, was with him in a Maoist camp this morning.

"We have to pray for him and see that he too returns safely," Colangelo said. .

Narrating his experience in the Maoist camp, Colangelo said the ultras had treated them "the best they could" and no harm was caused to the two hostages.

"I don`t want to get into politics … I leave it to the professionals," he said. He said he and Bosusco were bathing in a river when four persons came and abducted them.

A tired looking Colangelo, said, "It was frightening. Today finally there was a solution. Let us hope Paolo will be released very soon."

Meanwhile, DIG of Police (Southern Range), R K Sharma said Colangelo was down with fever for a day during his stay with the Maosits, but now he was fine. He said the other hostage, Paolo was also in good condition.