Four Italian journalists have been abducted in northern Syria, the Italian foreign ministry said, the ANSA news agency reported late Friday. The Italian authorities said they had been monitoring the case from the start but called for \"maximum discretion\", insisting that \"the physical safety of the hostages remains the absolute priority\", the ANSA report said. The La Repubblica website said the abducted were three freelance journalists and one reporter working for the Italian public broadcaster RAI. The newspaper said the journalists were kidnapped \"by a rebel group\" while out filming. The website of the La Stampa daily added that the four were taken overnight Thursday to Friday. Their families have already been informed, the foreign ministry said. In February, an Italian citizen and two Russians kidnapped on December 12 in the west of Syria were freed as part of an exchange for militants. Abductions for religious, political or purely financial reasons are becoming increasingly frequent in war-torn Syria. Syria\'s government on Tuesday offered kidnappers an amnesty deal, giving them 15 days to hand over victims or face sentences ranging from life with hard labour to execution, if their victims were murdered or sexually abused.