Minister calls for release of French hostage in Iraq

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy today called for the immediate release of a French engineer held hostage in Iraq, emphasising that France had no military presence there.

“Nothing justifies holding Bernard Planche in captivity,” the minister said in a statement a day after the first public video of the French captive was shown on an Arab satellite channel.

Militants yesterday released a video of Planche, who was kidnapped three weeks ago, and denounced the “illegal French presence” in the country, news channel Al-Arabiya reported.

The footage aired did not include any threats against him, spell out any demands or set any deadline.

The French government has said it was working for his release.

Planche, an engineer working for a non-governmental organisation called AACCESS, was kidnapped on December 5 on his way to work at a water plant in Baghdad.

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