UPDATE 1-Italian and two others kidnapped in Syria - Italy

Mon Dec 17, 2012 1:42pm EST

ROME Dec 17 (Reuters) - An Italian and two other workers at a steel plant near Syria's main port city of Latakia have been kidnapped, Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

A ministry official told Reuters they were kidnapped in Tartus, the country's second largest port and about 90 km (56 miles) from Latakia but, in order to protect them, he declined to provide any further details.

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in the statement that he was working with "all the facilities of the state involved" to ensure the release of the kidnapped Italian.

Italian daily papers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera said that the two others kidnapped were Russians. They named the Italian as 63-year-old engineer Mario Belluomo, who they said worked at the Syrian-owned Hmisho steel plant.

Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Markov, a spokesman for Russian Embassy in Syria, as saying the embassy was checking media reports of the abduction.

The Russian foreign ministry declined a request to comment.

Syria's 21-month civil war has claimed at least 40,000 lives. Italy is among several countries to have recognised opposition forces, fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

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