Kidnapped French Journalists Freed in Afghanistan

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Two French journalists who were kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2009 have been freed by their captors.

The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that two reporters for France-3 television, Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, have been released, along with their Afghan translator, Reza Din.

The journalists, their interpreter and two other Afghan colleagues were kidnapped in December of 2009 while working on a story about reconstruction east of Kabul. The Taliban said it was behind the abduction.

France has 4,000 troops fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon told Parliament Wednesday that the two journalists are in good health and will be on French soil in a matter of hours.

There was no immediate word on why the kidnappers decided to free their hostages after holding them for more than 18 months.

French officials say the government does not pay ransom for hostages.

President Sarkozy praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his handling of the situation and thanked others involved in securing the hostages' freedom.

The journalists' release was also met with joy among their colleagues in France, where a pre-planned vigil was being held in Paris when the news broke Wednesday.