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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajik Warlord Holds 2 French Aid Workers

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- A Tajik warlord claimed he was holding two missing French aid workers and offered to exchange them for his brother, who is awaiting trial on kidnapping charges, officials said Friday.

Rezvon Sadirov, made the offer in a telephone call to TACIS, the European Union assistance program that employed one of the kidnapped French workers, law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity.

The kidnapping occurred Tuesday night when Franck Janier-Dubry and his wife, Carine Mane, were taken by gunmen from their Dushanbe home.

Dubry worked for TACIS, while Mane was employed by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Officials from an "international organization working in Tajikistan'' and from the republic's national reconciliation commission left Dushanbe in a negotiation effort, Interfax reported.

Also Friday, the French ambassador to Russia and Tajikistan, Hubert Colin de Verdiere, was meeting with top Tajik officials in Dushanbe.

Sadirov's brother Bakhram seized 23 people last December, including nine UN workers. All were freed. In February, he took another 16 people hostage, including the Tajik security minister.

All were released unharmed after the government satisfied Bakhram's demands to allow his brother into Tajikistan from Afghanistan. But after Bakhram was arrested, Rezvon Sadirov began seizing hostages. In September, he kidnapped an Islamic leader and his sons, but freed the leader after a week.