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Afghan Insurgents Seize Two French Journalists

KABUL (Reuters) -- Two French journalists have been kidnapped by insurgents northeast of the Afghan capital together with their translator and driver, a police official said today.

Kidnapping has become a lucrative business in Afghanistan in recent years both for Taliban-led insurgents and criminal groups with largely financial motives.

The latest abductions happened on December 30 when the group was driving through Shinkai district of Kapisa Province, 120 kilometers from Kabul, Provincial Police Chief Matiuallah Safi told Reuters by phone.

"Two French journalists, their translator, and driver were kidnapped by antigovernment elements," Safi said, adding that he did not know who was behind the abduction.

Both the Taliban and loyalists of another insurgent leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, operate in rugged Kapisa. French troops are also stationed there as part of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan.

Police were in contact with villagers in the area for any information, but no contact had been made with the abductors, he said. He did not know the identity of the French pair or their news organization, but said both were male.

In the past, both criminal gangs and Taliban have freed many hostages after ransom or as part of a prisoner swap deal, but have also killed a number of foreign and Afghan captives, saying that their demands had not been met.