Taliban kill 2nd S.Korean hostage

Updated: 2007-07-31 01:27

KABUL - Taliban kidnappers shot dead a male South Korean hosage on Monday, a spokesman said, accusing the Afghan government of not listening to rebel demands for the release of Taliban prisoners.

Police in central Afghanistan at daybreak Tuesday discovered the body of a second South Korean hostage slain by the Taliban, officials said.

The blood-stained body of the bespectacled male Korean was dumped on a clover field beside a road in Arzoo, a village lying some 10 km (6 miles) to the south of the town of Ghazni.

Police cordoned off the site fearing it could have been booby trapped, but managed to recover it later.

A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hardline militia killed the Korean hostage Monday evening because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents.

"We shot dead a male captive because the government did not listen to our demands," spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters by telephone.

"We killed one of the male hostages at 6.30 this evening (1400 GMT) because the Kabul administration did not listen to our repeated demands," he told Reuters by telephone from an unknown location.

Relatives of South Koreans kidnapped in Afghanistan weep as they met family members of Bae Hyung-kyu who was killed by the militant group in Afghanistan last week in Sungnam, south of Seoul, Monday, July 30, 2007. [AP]

He said the Taliban would kill more hostages if Kabul ignored their demand to release rebel prisoners, but gave no new deadline. He said the body had been dumped by the side of a road.

The shooting was a bloody rejection of the authorities' request for more time for talks on freeing the South Korean hostages after the expiry of a rebel deadline earlier in the day.

The Taliban seized 23 Korean Christians, 18 of them women, 11 days ago from a bus in Ghazni on the main highway south from Kabul and killed the leader of the group on Wednesday after an earlier deadline passed.

The hostage crisis has focused attention on growing lawlessness in Afghanistan with Taliban influence, suicide bombs and attacks spreading to many areas previously considered safe and making road travel between major cities a risky affair.

A spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province, southwest of the capital Kabul, where the hostages were seized, said earlier that Afghan authorities had asked for two more days in which to settle the hostage crisis peacefully.

The Taliban had earlier extended its 'final' deadline but insisted the release of Taliban prisoners was the only way to settle the crisis.

On Sunday, the Taliban ruled out further talks after they said government negotiators demanded the unconditional release of the hostages and a senior Afghan official said that force might be used to rescue them if talks failed.

Demands Led to Deadlock

The government had wanted the Taliban to first release the 18 women hostages, but the insurgents demanded the government release its prisoners first, leading to deadlock, said a Kabul-based Western security analyst who declined to be named.

President Hamid Karzai has remained silent throughout the hostage ordeal, except for condemning the abduction, the largest by the Taliban since U.S.-led forces overthrew the movement's radical Islamic government in 2001.

He came under harsh criticism for freeing a group of Taliban in March in exchange for the release of an Italian journalist.

The body of the South Korean Christian pastor shot dead by the Taliban last week arrived in South Korea on Monday.

The bullet-ridden body of Bae Hyung-kyu was found last Wednesday, the day he would have turned 42. His brother, Bae Shin-kyu, told reporters the family would not hold a funeral until the other hostages returned to South Korea.

"My heart is trembling," said a mother of one of the hostages, who asked not to be named. "They have to return our children. Please help our children return safely."

Another hostage's mother said "I am most worried about their health. All I can say is that I want the 22 hostages to be returned safely as soon as possible in the state of health they are in now."

A South Korean shipment of emergency medical supplies and daily necessities has been delivered to the Taliban, but Seoul has not been able to confirm if the goods have reached the Koreans, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a presidential spokesman as saying.

The Koreans were abducted a day after two German aid workers and their five Afghan colleagues were seized by Taliban in neighbouring Wardak province.

The body of one of the Germans has been found with gunshots and the Taliban still hold the other along with four Afghans

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