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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 March 2007, 17:21 GMT
Taleban try bartering for captive
La Repubblica journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo
Daniele Mastrogiacomo is married with two children
A Taleban commander has called for the withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the release of an Italian journalist.

On Friday, Taleban insurgents said they would free Daniele Mastrogiacomo of the newspaper La Repubblica if he could prove he was not a spy.

But on Saturday, a Taleban spokesmen said the man's life was now at risk.

The Taleban is said to have changed its mind after Italy's lower house voted to keep troops in Afghanistan.

"This vote has put the life of the reporter in danger," a Taleban spokesman told Reuters news agency.

Correspondents say the upper house of the Italian parliament - where the government's majority is narrower - may vote differently when it considers the issue later this month.

Italy has almost 2,000 troops in Afghanistan, stationed in Kabul and in western Herat province under the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

Helmand capture

Taleban insurgents said on Tuesday they had captured two Afghan nationals as well as an Italian journalist.

A source close to the Islamist group told the BBC that they were seized for travelling in Helmand province without permission, and were accused of spying.

The two Afghans were named as Ajmal and Syed Agha.

Both are known as translators who work with Western journalists.

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