The Taliban has killed one of the 23 South Korean hostages. Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu’s bullet-riddled body was found last week and was returned to his family in South Korea. His family will not hold a funeral or memorial service until the other kidnapped men and women with him are released.
In a turn of events, however, there is speculation that the Taliban has killed a second South Korean hostage on Monday. This comes only hours after the Afghan government said it negotiated a stay of execution for the group of hostages. According to the governor of Ghazni province, the Taliban agreed to extend the deadline for the other 22 surviving hostages until noon tomorrow. Afghan officials say they have not recovered a body and could not confirm the claim. The hostages have been held since July 17.
A video possibly showing seven of the female hostages was broadcast last night on al-Jazeera television. The women in the undated, silent video were wearing head scarves and appeared to be unharmed.
The Taliban has set many deadlines for the release of 23 imprisoned insurgents in exchange for the lives of the 23 South Korean hostages. Reports say, however, that it is unlikely that the Afghan government will release any prisoners in exchange for the hostages, despite Taliban threats.
In March, Afghan President Hamid Karzai approved a deal that freed five captive Taliban insurgents for the release of Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo. Karzai was later criticized by the United States and Britain, and called the trade a one-time deal.
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