Two French school teachers, who had been held hostage by the Western Saharan liberation group the Polisario Front, were released in a ceremony in the Western Sahara desert on Wednesday (27 October).
CU Flags and PULL BACK TO GV of tent
GV French prisoners walking to French delegation
SV Reporter talking to prisoner
CU Prisoners talking to newsmen
The Western Sahara was formerly administered by Spain. When the Spanish Government withdrew from the territory last February they gave control to Morocco and Mauritania. The Saharan group, the Polisario Front immediately declared the independence of the territory and set up a provisional government. They have waged guerrilla warfare against troops from both Morocco and Mauritania and have conducted their diplomatic battle for recognition through the Organisation of Africa Unity.
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Background: Two French school teachers, who had been held hostage by the Western Saharan liberation group the Polisario Front, were released in a ceremony in the Western Sahara desert on Wednesday (27 October).
SYNOPSIS: The hand over ceremony took place in a tent in rugged, desert territory. Representatives of the Red Cross, the Polisario Front, the International Federation for the Rights of Man and the French government were present. The two prisoners were led out by Polisario Front members and welcomed by Claude Chaybot, who represented the French Foreign Ministry.
The two men, Jean-Claude Dief and Pierre Seguro, appeared to have lost weight, but said they had been well treated. However, they added that living conditions in the desert were very painful. The men were taken prisoner last December after being caught in the middle of a military engagement between Polisario soldiers and Moroccan troops. After months of negotiation, last Tuesday the French government declared they were neutral in the question of the Western Sahara -- recognising no government for the country. This statement was enough for the Polisario Front who immediately began final negotiations for the release of their prisoners.