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06:56, 29 May 2017 Monday
13:17, 17 February 2017 Friday

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Stolen Italian masterpiece recovered in Morocco
Stolen Italian masterpiece recovered in Morocco

The 17th-century painting by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, known as Guercino, had been snatched during a night-time robbery from a church in the northern Italian city of Modena in 2014.

World Bulletin / News Desk

A stolen painting worth up to six million euros by a Baroque Italian known as "The Squinter" has been recovered in Morocco, Italy's art police said Friday.

It was recovered thanks to a wealthy Moroccan businessman and art collector, who was offered it for some 940,000 euros ($1 million) by three dealers in Casablanca, according to the local Gazzetta di Modena.

The connoisseur recognised the painting immediately as a Guercino and tipped off the police.

The "Madonna with Saints John Evangelist and Gregory the Miracle Worker", painted in 1639, is valued by art historians at between five and six million euros ($5.3 and $6.3 million).

"The Moroccan authorities contacted us through Interpol to say that a large canvas that could be linked to a theft in Italy had been recovered during an investigation," the police said in a statement.

The police sent an urgent message back asking the Moroccans to "secure the canvas" so it could be returned "as soon as possible".

Barbieri (1591-1666), who was cross-eyed and went by the name Guercino (The Squinter), is known for his naturalist, Caravaggesque style.



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Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution
Libya extremist group Ansar al-Sharia announces dissolution

The Libyan jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia, which is linked to Al-Qaeda and deemed a terrorist organisation by the UN and United States, announced its "dissolution" in a communique published online on Saturday. Washington accuses the group of being behind the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi in which ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Ansar al-Sharia is one of the jihadist groups that sprung up in Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, in the chaos following the death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. They overran the city in 2014. East Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar earlier this month launched an offensive to oust jihadist fighters from their two remaining strongholds in Benghazi. In its communique Ansar al-Sharia said it had been "weakened" by the fighting. The group lost its leader, Mohammed Azahawi, in clashes with Haftar's forces in Benghazi at the end of 2014. Most of its members then defected to the so-called Islamic State group. Ansar al-Sharia later joined the Revolutionary Shura Council of Benghazi, a local alliance of Islamist militias. At its zenith, Ansar al-Sharia was present in Benghazi and Derna in eastern Syria, with offshoots in Sirte and Sabratha, western Libya. The organisation took over barracks and other sites abandoned by the ousted Kadhafi forces and transformed them into training grounds for hundreds of jihadists seeking to head to Iraq or Syria.