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Taliban: Exit Afghanistan For French Hostages

From an approving Reuters:

This combo taken 14 April 2007 from the site of public Canadian television network CBC shows two French nationals taken hostage in Afghanistan.

Taliban want French pullout, swap to save hostages

By Firouz Sedarat

DUBAI (Reuters) – Taliban guerrillas on Friday gave France one week to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan and demanded the release of fighters held by the government to save two kidnapped French aid workers, according to a Web statement.

“The stand of the mujahideen … is as follows: 1) that France withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan’s territories within one week; 2) the administration in Kabul must show a quick reaction on the swap of hostages,” said an Internet statement from Taliban’s leadership council.

“In case of refusal, action will be taken against them (hostages) promptly,” the council said.

France said it was aware of the ultimatum by Taliban and was currently studying the Internet claim.

“We have taken note of the indications which figure on the Taliban website,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said in a statement.

“We are analyzing them. We will make no further comment,” he said of the Taliban ultimatum.

The authenticity of the Taliban statement could not be verified. But it was posted on Web sites often used by Taliban, al Qaeda and other insurgent groups in countries including Iraq, Algeria and Somalia.

The Afghan government on Sunday again ruled out any hostage swap to free the two French aid workers held since they were captured two weeks ago by the rebels, who have threatened to behead them and send their heads to Paris.

Last Saturday, the insurgents released a brief black-and-white video of the two French aid workers — a woman who calls herself only Celine and a man who calls himself Eric — pleading for help from the French government.

Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who was kidnapped last month, was freed after two weeks when Kabul released five senior Taliban prisoners. His Afghan driver and translator were beheaded.

The Mastrogiacomo deal drew criticism in Afghanistan and Italy for encouraging the Taliban to take more hostages. They are also holding five Afghan health workers and have threatened to kill one soon unless the government starts peace talks.

So it looks like the the French will be pulling their forces out of Afghanistan. Such as they are.

Unless of course this weekend’s elections stiffen some Gallic spines. 

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, April 20th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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