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Sgrena was snatched in broad daylight near Baghdad University, minutes after she called the Rome bureau of her newspaper to say that she was safe.
"We give the Italian government 72 hours to recall its troops from Iraq or else we will communicate other messages to you," said a statement posted on the internet in the name of the so-called Islamic Jihad Organisation.
"The journalist's kidnapping is nothing other than a message to the Italian government, led by Prime Minister Berlusconi that you will never be secure as long as you have a soldier in Iraq," it added.
Sent to Baghdad to cover Sunday's elections, Sgrena was described by colleagues as an Arabic-speaking feminist with a passionate interest in Islam.