ROME (AP) -- Three workers at a Syrian steel plant, including an Italian, have been kidnapped, officials said Monday.
Italy's foreign ministry did not say where or when the kidnappings occurred but that their plant is located near the regime stronghold of Latakia on Syria's Mediterranean coast. The ministry statement said the two workers kidnapped with the Italian have other nationalities, but did not identify them.
Italy's news agency ANSA said the Italian captive works as an engineer and was abducted near Tartus, the Syrian port that is located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Latakia and that contains the only naval base Russia has outside the former Soviet Union.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in Syria civil war since it began in March 2011, according to activists, but the kidnapping of foreigners has been rare.
Last summer, two Italian electrical engineers were abducted by militants in Syria and freed after eight days in captivity. They told reporters that were kidnapped by several masked men as they drove to a Syrian airport. The two Italians were then helped by the Syria army and returned home in July.
On Monday, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said he is closely monitoring the current kidnapping case but that he won't release any details that could risk the safety of the three hostages. `'In all these cases, the well-being of our fellow countrymen is our absolute priority and it is indispensable to maintain maximum reserve," he said.