French hostages 'still alive late Wednesday'

2nd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 2 (AFP) - French officials were "nearly certain" late Wednesday that two journalists held hostage in Iraq were still alive, the editor-in-chief of Le Figaro newspaper, which employs one of the men, said Thursday.

PARIS, Sept 2 (AFP) - French officials were "nearly certain" late Wednesday that two journalists held hostage in Iraq were still alive, the editor-in-chief of Le Figaro newspaper, which employs one of the men, said Thursday.  

Jean de Belot, who attended a meeting late Wednesday with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and other top editors, told Europe 1 radio he was holding out "cautious hope" for the two men, urging continued action on their behalf.  

"They are alive and it's the complexity of the situation on the ground... that is obviously worrying," he said.  

"There is indirect contact" with the hostage-takers, de Belot said, adding that Raffarin did not want too many details to be made public as a precaution.  

Le Figaro journalist Georges Malbrunot and Radio France correspondent Christian Chesnot, who went missing August 20, are being held by a Sunni militant group, the Islamic Army of Iraq.  

The group is demanding that France rescind a law banning the Islamic headscarf and other "conspicuous" religious insignia in state schools, a law that went into effect Thursday with the start of the academic year.  

De Belot said there were "two factions within the group that is holding the two hostages" without explaining further.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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