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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kidnappers Threaten to Kill Reporter

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Militants who kidnapped an Italian reporter in Afghanistan must prove he is still alive before any negotiations for his release can begin, Italy's ambassador in Kabul said.

Taliban insurgents claim they kidnapped Daniele Mastrogiacomo -- a reporter with Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica, along with two Afghans who were traveling with him in the Nad Ali district of Helmand province Monday -- a day after the newspaper lost touch with its correspondent.

"We do hope that people who hold Daniele [are] ready to start a dialogue based on one simple point, the proof that these people ... they hold the hostage in their hands and that they can provide the proof of life of Daniele," Ettore Francesco Sequi told reporters in Kabul on Saturday.

There is no proof that the recent statements attributed to the Taliban even come from anyone linked to the kidnapping, Sequi said.

Italy's Foreign Ministry said Saturday evening that it believed Mastrogiacomo was still alive.

"Based on elements obtained so far through established channels for the case of journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, the Foreign Ministry has reason to maintain that our citizen is alive," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry did not elaborate on its reasons.

Its statement said its contacts were continuing to verify the kidnappers' "intentions and the expectations."