In Afghanistan, the kidnappers who abducted two French citizens and three Afghans have renewed their ultimatum. The Taliban have now given the French government until tomorrow to withdraw their NATO-led troops from the country or risk their detainees being killed. Authorities in Paris say they are trying to establish the veracity of the Taliban’s statement and whether the pair and their guides are still alive.
The pair, whose names have only been given as Celine and Eric, were in Afghanistan working for an aid organisation when they were seized earlier this month in the southwest Nimroz province.
The Taliban have carried out a number of kidnappings recently, demanding the release of some of their fighters from prison in return for freeing the hostages. Britain and the United States criticised a recent deal made with the Taliban by Italy and Afghanistan to secure the freedom of a kidnapped Italian journalist. They say the release of five militants in exchange for Daniele Mastrogiacomo, who was freed in March, endangered Nato troops and encouraged kidnappings.