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Associated Press
Kandahar, Afghanistan – July 30, 2007 – A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hardline militia killed a second South Korean hostage Monday because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents. Afghan officials said they hadn’t recovered a body and couldn’t confirm the claim.
The Al-Jazeera television network, meanwhile, showed footage that it said was seven female hostages in Afghanistan.
Militant spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive because the government had not met Taliban demands to trade prisoners for the Christian volunteers.
“The Kabul and Korean governments are lying and cheating. They did not meet their promise of releasing Taliban prisoners,” Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said by phone from an undisclosed location. “The Taliban warns the government if the Afghan government won’t release Taliban prisoners then at any time the Taliban could kill another Korean hostage.”
Ghazni Gov. Marajudin Pathan said officials were aware of the Taliban’s claim but hadn’t recovered a body. He said police were looking but he couldn’t say when they might find anything.
“Ghazni is a very vast area, so we really don’t know where the body is,” Pathan said.
Al-Jazeera showed shaky footage of what it said were several South Korean hostages. It did not say how it obtained the video, whose authenticity could not immediately be verified.
Some seven female hostages, heads veiled in accordance with the Islamic law enforced by the Taliban, were seen crouching in the dark, eyes closed or staring at the ground, expressionless.
The hostages did not speak as they were filmed by the hand-held camera.
The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans riding on a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway on July 19, the largest group of foreign hostages taken in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
The Taliban has set several deadlines for the Koreans’ lives. Last Wednesday the insurgents killed their first hostage, a male leader of the group.
It’s not clear if the Afghan government would consider releasing any militant prisoners.
In March, President Hamid Karzai approved a deal that saw five captive Taliban fighters freed for the release of Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo. Karzai, who was criticized by the United States and European capitals over the exchange, called the trade a one-time deal.
On Sunday, Karzai and other Afghan officials tried to shame the Taliban into releasing the female captives by appealing to a tradition of cultural hospitality and chivalry. They called the kidnapping of women “unIslamic.”
On Monday, South Korean officials changed their estimate of the number of women captives to 16, down from earlier reports of 18.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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