Wait continues for Korean hostages

A Taliban spokesman says female hostages will be released this afternoon.

Taliban negotiators held two days of face-to-face talks with a South Korean delegation [Reuters]
Taliban negotiators held two days of face-to-face talks with a South Korean delegation [Reuters]

The South Korean delegation in Afghanistan spent all day on Sunday in a convoy of vehicles near an agreed drop-off point waiting for a telephone call from the Taliban to say that the hostages had been released, Nolan said.


He also said that there have been no more face-to-face talks between the delegation and the Taliban since Saturday.


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Taliban fighters seized 23 South Koreans – working in Afghanistan as volunteers with a Christian group – on July 19, as they travelled by bus from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.
Two male hostages have been shot dead since then and their captors had threatened to murder more if demands for the release of Taliban prisoners were not met.

Qari Yusuf Bashir, head of the Taliban’s negotiation team, said earlier that Kabul would meet their demands and that the Korean and Afghan sides had already approved an initial “prisoners exchange”.
Speaking outside the Afghan Red Cross office in Ghazni where the second day of talks were held, he said: “We have great hope that the hostage crisis will be resolved today or tomorrow inshallah [God willing].”

The meeting between the Taliban leaders and four Korean officials, which began on Friday, was the first direct meeting since the Koreans were kidnapped.

Nolan said a Taliban spokesman had told him that the two women were being freed in exchange for South Korea reconfirming that all its troops would leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. 

“There will be more negotiations between the South Koreans and the Taliban … but the Taliban have made it clear for any more hostages to be released it will only be as part of a prisoner-hostage exchange,” he said.


German hostage appeals


In related news, the Taliban are still holding a German captive they kidnapped a day before the South Koreans.


A man who has identified himself as the German national held hostage in Afghanistan for more than three weeks said on Monday that his Taliban captors wanted to kill him.


The man, who gave his name as Rudolph Blechschmidt, said that he was ill and appealed to the German government to help secure his freedom.


“The Taliban want to kill me,” he said.


“I live with Taliban in the mountains,” he told the news agency AFP via telephone in an interview arranged by his captors.


“I am in danger also, and I am very sick.”


Steinmeier makes a statement three days after news of the german hostages [Reuters]

It has not however been possible to independently confirm the man’s identity.


The man said his captors wanted to speak directly with the Afghan government and the Germany embassy, and appealed for help to arrange contact with them.


Blechschmidt, a 62-year-old engineer, as identified in the media, was captured on July 18 with a German colleague in the province of Wardak, near to Kabul.


His colleague, a fellow engineer, suffered circulatory failure a few days later and was then shot dead by the Taliban.


Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany‘s foreign minister, made a statement to the media on July 21 in Berlin, saying the ministry had not received independent confirmation.


Four Afghans captured with the engineers are also believed to be held by the Taliban, who have demanded a release of prisoners in exchange for his life.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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