Joy as French reporters freed in Afghanistan

Joy as French reporters freed in Afghanistan

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere of state network France 3, were seized in November 2009 in the mountains of Kapisa, an unstable region east of the Afghan capital Kabul.

A French embassy official told AFP from Kabul they were "surprisingly well, both physically and mentally".

The two are expected at Villacoublay air base outside Paris today at 8:00 am to be reunited with their families."Obviously, I'll be there to welcome them," said Ghesquiere's overjoyed partner Beatrice Coulon.

"It's a shock. Hearing about it like this, it's hard to talk," added Taponier's brother Stephane.

"It's wonderful," declared Taponier's mother Arlette. "I know that they're free, I don't know much else," she told AFP after being given the news by President Nicolas Sarkozy's office.

"For the past few hours, our two hostages in Afghanistan have been in the hands of French forces at the base in Tagab," Prime Minister Francois Fillon told parliament to a chorus of cheers.

"Our two hostages are in good health and in a few hours they will be on French soil," he said, paying tribute to French forces and agents serving in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led coalition.

France has nearly 4,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting against the Taliban, alongside a much larger US force and contingents from European allies and Canada.

In a statement, Sarkozy's office said: "The president is delighted at the liberation of our two compatriots, Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, as well as their interpreter Reza Din."

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