Taliban threatens death of held French aid workers

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Two kidnapped French aid workers may be executed by their Taliban captors within seven days.

Known only as Eric and Celine, the workers for the children's charity Terre d'Enfance face a potential beheading if new ultimatums issued by the Taliban are not adhered to by France.

They were kidnapped on April 3rd in Afghanistan's Nimroz province before being moved to a location in the unstable southern province of Helmand, where most British forces in the country are located, it is believed.

The Taliban are demanding that France withdraw its 1,000 troops stationed near Kabul in Afghanistan and that the two workers, together with three Afghan hostages, be exchanged with militants held captive by Nato forces.

Although France are unlikely to bow to the terrorists' demands, president Jacques Chirac has sent a top diplomat to Kabul to investigate how the lives of Eric and Celine can be saved.

Today's development comes after a prisoner exchange two weeks ago which critics said would prompt further similar ultimatums.

Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo was freed in exchange for the release of Taliban militants earlier this month.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai said after Ms Mastrogiacomo's release that no further exchanges would take place.

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