GHAZNI, Afghanistan - Taliban kidnappers will kill their remaining 22 South
Korean hostages unless the government releases eight rebel prisoners by noon
(0730 GMT / 3:30 a.m. EDT) on Friday, a spokesman said.
The Taliban have already killed
the leader of the 23 Korean Christian volunteers they snatched from a bus on the
main highway south of the capital Kabul last week, but several previous
deadlines have passed without them carrying out their threats.
One of the family members of kidnapped South Koreans in
Afghanistan cries during a news conference asking for the safe return of
the hostages, in Seoul, July 26, 2007. [Reuters]
The Taliban spokesman said Afghan authorities had asked for more time after
the insurgents presented the government with a list of eight prisoners it wanted
"The administration of Kabul has asked us to give them till 12 noon today,"
spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters by telephone from an unknown
"We are waiting for them. We have given them a list of eight prisoners and if
they are not released we won't have any other option than to start killing the
South Korean chief presidential national security advisor, Baek Jong-chun, is
expected to arrive in Afghanistan later on Friday to step up efforts to free the
In a first known contact with the outside, a South Korean woman hostage
pleaded for help and a speedy release of all the hostages in a telephone
interview with CBS News.
The weeping voice, which spoke in Korean and Dari, was believed to be that of
Yoo Hyun-joo, a 32-year-old nurse.
"We are held here in very difficult conditions every day," Yoo spoke in
Korean in a recording of the interview posted on CBS News Web site. "Please help
us so that we can come out as soon as possible."
Yoo's brother said he could immediately recognize her voice, South Korea's
Yon hap news agency said.
Afghan President Humid Kara has pledged not to swap prisoners for hostages
after being criticized for releasing five Taliban from jail in March in exchange
for an Italian reporter.
The president and ministers have remained silent throughout the latest
One German and four Afghans snatched separately are also still being held
hostage by the Taliban.
The past 18 months has seen rising violence in Afghanistan, with daily
clashes between Taliban insurgents and Afghan and foreign