Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni says no ransom was paid to win the release of Italian hostages held for nearly eight months in Libya.

Two of the hostages escaped last week after being left unattended in a hideout in the western Libyan city of Sabratha, while the other two died in a shootout while being transferred to another location.

Gentiloni told the Senate on Wednesday that the kidnappings last July, as the four construction workers were returning from time off in Italy, appears to have been carried out by local criminal groups with Islamic ties. He said there was no evidence that the Islamic State group, which has been fighting for territory near Sabratha, was involved and said that there had never been any claims of responsibility.