BEIRUT — Iraqi Kurds who support Iran said they kidnaped three Italian engineers in northern Iraq and demanded Monday that Italy withdraw its warships from the Persian Gulf.
A statement delivered to a Western news agency in Muslim West Beirut said the Iraqi Kurdistan National Union seized the Italians to protest "Italian aid to the Iraqi regime and Italian military presence in the gulf waters."
Iran and Iraq have been at war since September, 1980. Each supports rebels within the other's Kurdish minority.
In Rome, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that the Italians were abducted, "apparently by groups of Kurdish guerrillas." It identified the kidnap victims as Sergio Cominetti, Giuseppe Carrara and Roberto Diotallevi. It said Cominetti was kidnaped "around the middle of September" and the others were taken "around 10 days ago."
No details of the kidnapings were included in a three-paragraph statement by the Iraqi Kurdistan National Union, but it gave names similar to those released by Italy's Foreign Ministry.
"The condition for their release is mainly to cease Italian aid to the Iraqi regime and the withdrawal of Italian warships from the gulf," it said.
Italy sent three minesweepers, three frigates and two support vessels to the gulf after an Italian merchant vessel was attacked last month by what was described as an Iranian speedboat.