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Taliban Release French Hostage
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The Taliban released a French female hostage yesterday ending her ordeal since she was kidnapped on April 3 near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan along with four colleagues. A Taliban spokesman described the act as "a good gesture" toward the French people.

The woman was handed over to tribal elders in Panjwai district as "a good gesture" toward the French people, Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told Xinhua by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.

He added that no prisoner exchange took place to release the woman.

Taliban militants kidnapped the woman, a French man and their three Afghan employees in the southern Nimroz province on April 3. All of them are employees of Terre d'enfance (Children's Land), an NGO assisting children.

In exchange for their release, the Taliban has demanded the withdrawal of all French troops from Afghanistan and the freeing of specific Taliban prisoners.

Afghan authorities have ruled out any possibility of freeing prisoners, while the French government reminded the Taliban on Friday that its troops are not for the long term.

As to the fate of the other four hostages, the Taliban spokesman stated "we still hold them and would force the Afghan and French governments to meet our demands."

(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2007)

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