GAZA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Three Italians working for the Italian embassy were released by Hamas on Tuesday night after being held at an office of the United Nations (UN) in Gaza for two days, local media reported.
The Italians are security guards who arrived in Gaza on Monday to ensure the visit of the Italian Ambassador to Israel Gianluigi Benedetti on Wednesday, local media quoted sources close to the UN as saying.
The report said that Hamas security forces chased an armored vehicle holding diplomatic plates Monday afternoon and opened fire at it, but the car escaped and took refuge in a UN office in western Gaza.
Hamas and other factions' armed wing militants besieged the office and demanded to check the identities of the three Italians who were armed with automatic rifles, fearing that they could be members of an Israeli army undercover unit, said the sources.
After the Italian ambassador intervened and talked with Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas security officers checked identities of the Italians and let them leave, said the reports.