Deal criticised

The Mastrogiacomo deal has been widely criticised in Italy and Afghanistan, with security experts saying that it would trigger more abductions of foreigners.

Last week, two French aid workers, a man and a woman, were kidnapped along with three Afghan colleagues in the Nimroz province between Iran and Afghanistan's Helmand province.

On Friday, Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, ruled out any more prisoner swaps with the Taliban.

The fighters are also holding five Afghan health officials and have demanded the release of more of their men.
   
No ransom demand has yet been issued in return for freeing the French pair.