Taliban frees two S Korean women hostages

Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan freed two South Korean women hostages on Monday, officials in Seoul said, and they have been handed over to the Red Crescent.

Reuters witnesses said the two women arrived in the village of Arzoo, near the city of Ghazni, in a saloon car driven by two tribal elders.

“We saw them getting into a Red Crescent vehicle,” one of the witnesses said. “They were able to walk and appeared to be well, but they were very emotional and were crying.”

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Korean women were freed.

A Taliban spokesperson said the decision to free the pair had been made by the Taliban leadership council, headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, as a gesture of goodwill towards the Korean people and South Korean diplomats negotiating for the hostages’ release.

The pair are the first of the hostages to be released by the Taliban kidnappers since the group of 23 Korean church volunteers were abducted from a bus in Ghazni province on the main road south from the capital, Kabul, more than three weeks ago.

The Taliban have killed two male hostages and threatened to kill the rest unless a similar number of Taliban prisoners are freed in exchange.

The Afghan government has refused to give in to the demand, saying that would just encourage more kidnapping.

The Taliban now hold 19 Korean hostages, 16 of them women.—Reuters

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