Taliban says prisoners swapped for French hostages

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The Taliban said Thursday that some of its jailed commanders had been freed in exchange for the release of two French hostages, who returned home after 18 months in captivity in Afghanistan.

"France was made to accept the conditions of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) and agreed the release of a number of mujahedeen commanders in exchange for the release of the journalists," it said in a statement.

The Taliban claimed the abduction of the two television journalists, who vanished on December 30 2009 in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul.

"With the blessing of God, the mujahedeen commanders were freed and in exchange, the prisoners (journalists) too," said spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement released by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

The militia, which has been leading a decade-long insurgency against the Kabul government and US-led NATO troops hailed the exchange as a "big achievement" and congratulated its fighters on the swap.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, both 48, were reunited with their families in Paris on Thursday, saying their Taliban captors had not hurt them, but shedding little light on how they were freed.

© 2011 AFP

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