SPECIAL Forces based in Poole rescued two Italian hostages from the Taliban in a helicopter raid, it emerged yesterday.

Members of the Special Boat Service killed nine people in the 48-hour mission in Afghanistan to save the hostages, believed to be two military intelligence officers.

The raid took place on Monday as four Lynx helicopters flew the 20 SBS men to attack two convoys carrying the kidnapped Italians near the Iranian border.

SBS snipers are understood to have shot out the engine blocks of the jeeps before a 16 man team was dropped off by helicopter to continue the attack.

The Italians and their interpreter were all injured when they were rescued, one Italian seriously.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman told the Daily Echo: "We do not comment on special forces operations."

Major Charles Anthony, Nato spokesman in Kabul, said: "It was a very well executed rescue mission."

Alfredo Mantovano, an Italian senator, said: "I would like to express my sincere thanks to the British troops who made a decisive contribution to the rescue of the two Italians."

The SBS is the Royal Navy's version of the SAS and is based at the same Poole base as 1 Assault Group Royal Marines in Poole. One of its four Sabre squadrons of 80 men is permanently assigned to southern Afghanistan.