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Military Options Speculated over Hostage Crisis

Posted August. 01, 2007 08:50,   


As the hostage crisis intensifies after the Afghan Taliban rebels killed Shim Seong-min, one of the Korean hostages, the Afghan government is considering the possibility of launching military operations to rescue them.

“If dialogue fails, then we will resort to other means,” Munir Mangal, a deputy interior minister, said on Saturday, raising the possibility of military operations.

Japan`s NHK also reported Sunday that the Afghan government, which has been preparing a rescue operation, has dispatched 720 soldiers from a special tactic group which have received hostage rescue training from U.S. forces.

Experts say that military operations can be regarded as an ultimate card for hostage rescue given that the situation has dragged on and that the Taliban is likely to kill more hostages to pressure both the Afghan and Korean governments.

They believe that the locations of the hostages and the movements of the kidnappers have already been identified, considering the intelligence capabilities of the U.S. regarding Afghanistan.

Therefore, if military operations are to be carried out, the hideouts of the kidnappers will be located with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles, wiretapping devices, and local intelligence agents to aid the coalition forces and Afghan Special Forces in making a series of surprise attacks under the cover of darkness upon receiving consent from the Korean government.

However, counterterrorism experts and military officials agree that there is almost no chance of saving the hostages with military operations.

Provided that the Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province, where the abducted Koreans have been held hostage, is rugged mountainous regions, it will not be easy to carry out swift military operations. Moreover, such operations can cause many causalities since the Taliban militants who have confined the hostages in several different hideouts may use them as human shields. The hostage takers, who have been wearing a bomb vest and are monitoring the abductees around the clock, have frequently changed their hideouts to counter possible military operations, according to sources.

Another stumbling block is the Taliban’s threat that they will execute the hostages as soon as military operations are launched. The Korean government will also be reluctant to agree with military action since talks are still underway.

“It is not time to give up dialogue,” Cheon Ho-seon, the presidential spokesman, said on Tuesday, confirming the government’s opposition to military operations in the current situation.

However, if the Korean government’s efforts to rescue the lives of the hostages fail and additional hostages are murdered, the government will likely consider reviewing military options.

“If another Korean is harmed, we will not sit back and watch it but make sure those responsible are held accountable,” Cheon added.