France marks anniversary of reporters' Afghan abduction

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Images on Arc de Triomphe monument
Image caption,
"Free Stephane and Herve and their three colleagues," reads the slogan

The first anniversary of the detention of two French journalists held hostage in Afghanistan has been marked by vigils in France.

Pictures of Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier were projected onto the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris.

The men were seized along with three Afghan colleagues from an area north-east of Kabul.

A recent video released to French authorities shows the two men appealing to their government for help.

The two France-3 television journalists were captured by insurgents on 29 December last year in Kapisa province along with their Afghan driver and translator.

The eye-catching stunt at the Arc de Triomphe was organised by Paris-based media rights campaigners Reporters Without Borders.

"By projecting their faces on to the Arc de Triomphe, we want to remind the French authorities that the promises of a forthcoming liberation are not enough," it said in a statement.

"President Nicolas Sarkozy must make their fate a national priority."

'Lack of progress'

A video, filmed in mid-November by the kidnappers, was recently released to French authorities and showed the two hostages looking thin but in good shape.

After viewing it, Stephane Taponier's parents spoke to the media for the first time since their son was kidnapped and expressed frustration at the lack of progress in freeing him.

The couple said they were tired of hearing upbeat statements from French government ministers that failed to come to anything.

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in a recent statement that securing freedom for the TV journalists and six other French hostages around the world was an 'absolute priority' of the government.

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