The whereabouts of two Italian tourists kidnapped by Maoists from the Daringbadi area of Odisha's Kandhamal district remained unknown till Sunday evening.

The Maoists had said the two would be released only after the Naveen Patnaik government promised to fulfil their demands that included halting of combing operations by the security forces.

Paulo Bosusco and Claudio Colengelo were taken hostage on March 14 while they were taking photographs of locals at a tribal hamlet at Daringbadi.

They had reached Daringbadi on March 12 by travelling from Puri along with three others — the driver of the vehicle and Santosh Moharana and Kartik Parida, both residents of Puri. The driver had returned from Daringbadi on March 12 itself, and the others stayed back for trekking in the area. Moharana and Parida, who were released by the Maoists on Saturday evening, reached their hometown early on Sunday morning.

R.K. Sharma, Deputy Inspector-General (Southern Range), quoting Moharana and Parida, said the Maoists had told the duo that they would not cause any physical harm to the Italian tourists.

Meanwhile, Mr. Patnaik has appealed to the Maoists to release the Italian nationals on humanitarian grounds. He said the government was ready for talks with them.

The Chief Minister, who spoke to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, said the Maoists had not formally intimated the government about their demands.