Afghan video shows French hostages


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Updated SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 2007


Afghan video shows French hostages


Two French nationals taken hostage in Afghanistan have told how they fear they will soon be killed, in video footage obtained by a Canadian television network.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which has broadcast only still images, has not explained how it had obtained the video - which is the first evidence the pair are still alive.

The pictures show a young woman saying in a weak voice that she was a French volunteer kidnapped by the Taliban 10 days ago, network officials said.

Both the man, Eric Damfreville, who confirmed his name, and the woman, known only as Salma, appealed for their lives to be saved.

The French government has confirmed the video shows two French aid workers who have gone missing in Afghanistan.

'No prisoner swaps'

James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jalalabad, said: "The Taliban demands are that they want more prisoners released.

"They want three prisoners held in Kandahar released in exchange for a doctor who they will say they will execute in two days time.

"President Karzai has ruled out any future prisoner swaps so he has very little room for manoeuvre now."

According to CBC, the video also shows three Afghan men, blindfolded and shackled, who were the translators and driver with the French pair when they were taken.


Armed kidnappers

At the end of the video, a glimpse can be seen of heavily armed Taliban kidnappers.

The French aid workers, from the non-governmental organisation Terre d'Enfance (A World for Our Children), went missing on April 3 in the southwestern province of Nimroz.

Concerns over the safety of the hostages mounted after the Taliban said on Sunday that they had beheaded an Afghan reporter whom they kidnapped with an Italian journalist a month ago in the southern province of Helmand.

The Taliban said it executed Ajmal Naqshbandi because the government failed to meet their demand to free imprisoned Taliban fighters.

However, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, an Italian reporter, was freed in a hostage deal that saw five fighters released from Afghan prisons.

Karzai criticised

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president was criticised for his controversial deal and has said that his government will not repeat the hostage trade with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Jacques Chirac, the French president has demaned that Karzai support efforts to free the French aid workers, Karzai's office said Friday.

"President Chirac during a telephone conversation last night demanded the Afghan president's support to secure the release of two French nationals," Karzai's office said in a statement.

"The president in response assured that all relevant Afghan authorities will do their utmost to secure their release," it said.

The Taliban have also been holding five Afghan medics since kidnapping them in southern Kandahar province on March 27.

On Monday, the fighters threatened to kill at least one of the doctors unless the government entered talks.