KABUL, Afghanistan -- A video of a kidnapped Italian aid worker was broadcast yesterday on Afghan television, showing her wrapped in a brown blanket flanked by two men aiming rifles at her head -- a tactic reminiscent of Iraqi abductions.
Clementina Cantoni, 32, a worker for CARE International, responded to prompts from a man not shown on the video; she identified herself and named her father, mother, and an uncle.
The tape, broadcast by independent Tolo TV, then zoomed in on her face. She had a blue scarf on her head, spoke quietly, and looked nervous.
It was not clear when the recording was made. But near the end of the tape, the man who was speaking off-camera asked Cantoni the date. ''Today is May 28, Sunday," she said. The date referred to Saturday, and the discrepancy could not be explained.
Cantoni was abducted May 16, dragged from a car by four armed men as she was being driven to her home in Kabul, the capital. She has been in Afghanistan since 2002 and was working on a project helping Afghan widows and their families.
The television station did not say how it had obtained the tape. The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the woman in the video was Cantoni.
''The video is reliable. Thus it's reassuring that it shows that Cantoni is in good health," Pasquale Terracciano, a ministry spokesman, said in Rome. ''The contacts continue."
He declined to comment when asked to elaborate on how the video ended up in the hands of the Afghan television station.
Authorities have said they suspect the kidnapping was the work of the same criminal gang accused of abducting three UN workers last year. The hostages were released a month later.
The director for CARE International in Afghanistan, Paul Barker, said he had seen the video but not any obvious signs that Cantoni was ill or had been mistreated.
''We were encouraged that Clementina looks relatively well and healthy in the video. Her eyes look fine. She looks composed, obviously frightened," Barker said. ''I would be much more frightened than she was under the circumstances. But on balance, we were encouraged by this development," he said.
Government officials could not be reached for comment.
President Hamid Karzai paid tribute to Cantoni on Friday, calling her a ''daughter of Afghanistan." Posters seeking information about her have been plastered across the city, and Afghan widows who benefited from her aid work have held rallies demanding her release.
In the south yesterday, gunmen killed Muslim cleric Mullah Abdul Fayaz a week after he led a meeting in Kandahar of about 500 clerics from across Afghanistan that condemned the Taliban rebels and called on people to support the government.
Fayaz was shot to death while driving in the center of Kandahar city, said the deputy police chief, General Salim Khan. Ten suspects were arrested after the killing, Khan said.