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French journalists held captive for 500 days in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 13 May 2011 15:39
The faces of two French journalists taken hostage 500 days ago in Afghanistan occupied the front pages of several French dailies on Friday, amid hopes that the death of Osama bin Laden could lead to their release.
French journalists held captive for 500 days in Afghanistan

The faces of two French journalists taken hostage 500 days ago in Afghanistan occupied the front pages of several French dailies on Friday, amid hopes that the death of Osama bin Laden could lead to their release, DPA reported.

Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier, journalists with France 3 public television, were abducted on December 30, 2009, about 60 kilometres north-east of Kabul, along with three Afghan assistants.

The French government, which has been trying to negotiate their release, says it is certain they are still alive and being held by the Taliban, but has given few other details.

The last video recording of the two dates to December 20.

Their captivity is the longest by a member of the media in years.

Jean-Louis Normandin, a journalist who was held captive in Lebanon for two years in the 1980s, said Friday 500 days was an important symbol and called for people nationwide to "shout their despair."

The Taliban in January accused the pair of spying, allegations rejected by France as "absurd."

On May 2, Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said the killing by US commandos of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden could impact "positively" on the fate of the two journalists.

In January bin Laden, in an audio message, had linked the fate of French hostages to the presence of French troops in Afghanistan.

France has around 4,000 troops serving under the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan.

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