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France - Afghanistan

Journalists' parents break silence on sons' captivity

Reuters/Benoit Tessier

One year ago on Wednesday, journalists Stéphane Taponier and Hervé Ghesquière, from French television channel France 3 were taken hostage by the Taliban while reporting in Afghanistan. Their faces are being projected onto the Arc de Triomphe, as media rights campaigners mark the first anniversary of their abduction.

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The journalists were kidnapped together with three Afghan colleagues a year ago in an area northeast of Kabul.

Their photos were printed Wednesday on the front pages of French national newspapers and their plight was the lead story in many television and radio news broadcasts.

Last week France 3 television revealed that a new video the kidnappers made in mid-November of their two French hostages had been released to the French authorities.

The parents of Taponier were shown the video on Tuesday at the French foreign ministry. For the first time since their son was kidnapped Gérard Taponier, father of Stéphane, spoke briefly to the press.

"They've lost weight, but they seemed to be in good spirits," he said. "They didn't say much, but they did say that they hoped the government would do everything that it could to have them liberated."

Gérard Taponier also expressed frustration at the lack of progress in freeing his son, but at the same time said that he was encouraged by a visit to Afghanistan this month by newly appointed Defence Minister Alain Juppé.

During that visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai promised France his full support in efforts to free the hostages.

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