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Two French journalists working for state television channel France 3 and held hostage in Afghanistan for 18 months have been freed. They are expected to arrive back in Frence early on Thursday morning.

The remaining captive member of their three-man Afghan production team was also released unharmed.

“Our two French hostages in Afghanistan are in the hands of French forces in their base in Tagab. We are releasing this information after directly informing the families of these two journalists of the news which they have been waiting for with so much impatience,” announced Prime Minister François Fillon in parliament.

No mention has yet been made of any ransom being paid for their release.

The group was kidnapped 60 kilometres north-east of Kabul in December 2009, since when there has been a tireless campaign for their release in France organised by their colleagues, unions, and their families.

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