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S.Korean Government Seeks Direct Contact with Hostages

Posted August. 02, 2007 17:31,   


The South Korean government is seeking direct contact with the Korean hostages kidnapped by the Taliban, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported on August 1.

“The South Korean negotiation delegates are expected to meet the Korean hostages,” wrote the AIP in the afternoon on the same day. Quoting a source of information who hoped to stay anonymous, the AIP added, “The Taliban accepted the request from the South Korean delegates. The delegates have arrived and are staying in Ghazni.”

But Mahmood Gailani, a parliamentarian from Ghazni, showed a negative reaction, saying, “How can we let the South Korean delegates travel into the mountains where the Taliban are swaggering about? It does not make any sense.”

These contradicting news reports came at around 4:30 in the afternoon the same day, the deadline for negotiation set by the Taliban. When the deadline for negotiations passed, the Taliban threatened that it “would murder more hostages.”

“The deadline for negotiation today has passed and no new deadline has been set. Among the hostages anyone can be murdered at anytime,” the purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the AIP.

The AIP added that Ahmadi did not mention the condition of the hostages who, according to Ahmadi the previous day, were in ill physical condition and could possibly die from sickness.

Meanwhile, the AP reported that Afghan government forces, after the negotiation deadline passed, distributed paper notes to the local residents informing them of the possibility of a military operation.

“Afghan National Army helicopters dropped leaflets in Ghazni province warning people of an upcoming military operation in the area,” the AP reported.

According to the AP, the leaflet read, “The Defense Ministry wants to launch a military operation in the area. In order for you to be safe and not be affected by the operation, we call on you to evacuate to safe government-controlled areas.” Nothing, however, was said about when and where the operation would be launched, the AP added.

Ahead of this, NHK of Japan also quoted an Afghan government authority and reported “300 special forces arrived in Ghazni on July 31.”

Reports said that no notable progress was made in the negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government on the release of the hostages.

At an interview with the AFP and AIP, the chief delegate of the Afghan government, Wahidula Mujadedi, said, “We are continuing to talk but without any progress.”

Parliamentarian Gailani, a member of the delegation, said, “The tribal leaders called for a 48-hour prolongation of the negotiations and are waiting for the Taliban to answer.”