Thursday Jun 30, 201102:01 AM GMT
French journalists freed in Afghanistan
Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:59AM
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People hold placards with pictures of the two French journalists kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in December 2009, on June 29, 2011 in Paris, during a demonstration prior to the announcement of their release.
Two French journalists abducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan 547 days ago have been released by the Afghan militants.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking everyone, including his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, who participated in freeing the hostages, Reuters reported.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, both of whom worked for France 3 television, were kidnapped on December 30, 2009 in the mountains of Kapisa, an unstable region east of the Afghan capital Kabul.

The abduction was claimed by the Taliban.

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament that the freed journalists were in good health at the Tagab base in Kapisa province and would be on French soil in a few hours.

Siamak Heravi, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, congradulated the journalists themselves, as well as the French government and people on the occasion and called it an “achievement.”

The two journalists' interpreter, Reza Din, was also freed, the French president's statement said.

There was no immediate word about two other Afghans who were abducted along with the three men released.

It was unclear on Wednesday whether the militants had made any demands in return for the release of the journalists. However, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe emphasized that France did not pay any ransom for hostages.

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