UPDATED 2.10pm: The Maltese man abducted in Libya a week ago has been released following a rescue operation early this morning.

Pierre Baldacchino, the manager of Saint James Hospital in Tripoli was kidnapped on December 15 as he was returning home.

In exclusive comments to timesofmalta.com, Mr Baldacchino hours after his release, he said his rescue was straight out of a movie script. (listen to audio interview below)

Details of the rescue operation are still sketchy and the identity of his kidnappers is not yet known.  The storming took place at about 1.30am and two kidnappers were arrested. A search for other members of the gang is in progress.

Mr Baldacchino said he heard noise outdoors and heard his rescuers mounting walls, before forcing his cell door open.

"I thought I was going to suffer a heart attack," said Mr Baldacchino who also explained the harrowing moments when he was abducted last week.

"I tried to reverse my car when I realised I was going to be abducted but I bumped into another car. Four armed and hooded men came out and I surrendered."

In a video, Mr Baldacchino said he is in good health. He said he was kept bound and blindfolded the whole time until he was rescued, though he says he was treated quite well.

I thought I was going to suffer a heart attack

He was released by the Radda Deterrent Force, the same group which also secured the release of Noel Sciberras last October.

Holding back tears, Mr Baldacchino said it was a difficult week, not least because he was not in touch with his children.

It is not known when he will return to Malta.

Expressing relief, Saint James Hospital director Jean Claude Muscat said the details of the rescue operation were still unknown though he was aware that there was a lot of work between the Libyan and Maltese security services.

“I spoke to Pierre this morning and despite still being in shock, he handled it well. We were in touch with his family throughout.”

Asked whether the ordeal will force Saint James Hospital to pull out of Libya, Mr Muscat said the company would think “long and hard” about the operation.

Mr Baldacchino, a father of two young girls, was the third Maltese to be abducted in Libya in the last 18 months. Both of the previous victims also had been working in Libya; one was released after 11 days in captivity and the other after 47 days. 

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