Taliban 'await government contact over hostages'

17th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, April 17, 2007 (AFP) - The Taliban are waiting for Afghan authorities to contact them over two French aid workers and eight Afghans whom they kidnapped this month, a militant spokesman said Tuesday.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, April 17, 2007 (AFP) - The Taliban are waiting for Afghan authorities to contact them over two French aid workers and eight Afghans whom they kidnapped this month, a militant spokesman said Tuesday.

The Islamists have been holding two French nationals and three of their Afghan colleagues since seizing them in the southwestern province of Nimroz on April 3. Five Afghan medics snatched late March are also being held.

A videotape showing the French man and woman was shown on Canadian television at the weekend. Paris says it has not received any demands from the kidnappers.

"We're waiting for the government to contact us over the French nationals and Afghan doctors," Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP from an unknown location by telephone.

"So far no one has contacted us about this," said Ahmadi, who often calls media to claim attacks on behalf of the insurgents, including a blast which killed five UN workers in Kandahar earlier Tuesday.

President Hamid Karzai's spokesman Karim Rahimi told a press conference Tuesday that authorities were working "very seriously" to secure the release of the hostages, adding that he could not give details for security reasons.

French President Jacques Chirac called Karzai last week to demand his support for efforts to free the French workers of Terre d'Enfance (A World for Our Children).

However the Afghan leader has said that the government will not make any more hostage deals with the Taliban following the controversial release of five rebels in exchange for a kidnapped Italian last month.

An Afghan translator and driver who were seized with Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo in early March were both beheaded after the government refused to negotiate for their lives, eliciting howls of protest.

Afghan foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said on Sunday that kidnapping would become an "industry" for the rebels if more deals are made.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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