NEW DELHI – An Italian tour guide freed by Maoist rebels in eastern India on Thursday joked to reassure people he was well but said he lost 10 kilograms (22 pounds) during his tough, monthlong captivity.
Paolo Bosusco's captors let him go after local officials agreed to release five rebels from prison.
Bosusco and Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo were abducted March 14 while on a trek in Orissa state. Colangelo was released 11 days later, but Bosusco remained in captivity while the rebels and the state government negotiated.
Bosusco said he had been treated well by the rebels.
"I'm in good health. There's nothing to worry about. I love Orissa," he told journalists in Bhubaneshwar, the state capital.
"The first thing I want to do is fly to Italy and meet my family," he said.
Later, in a phone interview to Italy's Sky TG24 TV, Bosusco said his captivity was "tough."
"I, with my character, suffered perhaps less than other people, but I suffered physically, in fact I lost 10 kilos," the Italian said.
"I'm joking, talking, laughing to reassure all those who know me. But otherwise it was tough. They were 28 days in which you didn't know how things were going to end up," he said.
Bosusco has lived in India more than 12 years and runs an adventure tourism bureau from the coastal town of Puri in Orissa.
The rebels are inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong and have been fighting in several Indian states for more than four decades demanding land and jobs for farmers and the poor.
Police said the rebels held the men in a hideout deep in the jungles of the state's Kandhamal district.
There was no word on the fate of an Orissa lawmaker abducted three weeks ago. The rebels have separately demanded the release of 30 of their imprisoned comrades for the lawmaker to be set free.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the insurgency India's biggest internal security threat. At least 2,000 police, militants, rebels and civilians have been killed in the conflict.
(This version CORRECTS first name of Bosusco.)