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Taliban to free all Korean hostages

The Taliban will release the remaining seven hostages on Thursday, the day after the release of 12 of the 19 South Korean aid workers.

world Updated: Aug 30, 2007 18:05 IST
DPA

The Taliban will release the remaining seven hostages on Thursday, the day after 12 of the 19 South Korean aid workers the militants have been holding hostage in Afghanistan for nearly six weeks were let free, a Taliban spokesman said.

The intention to complete the release under a pledge the Taliban made a couple of days ago in face-to-face negotiations with South Korean officials, was confirmed by Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi to South Korean television station KBS on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 12 hostages, 10 women and two men, were released in three separate groups in three different districts of Ghazni province.

The releases came a day after negotiators for South Korea and members of the radical Islamic group said an agreement had been reached on the release of the Christian aid workers kidnapped on July 19.

The South Korean government said it had agreed to withdraw its 200 soldiers from Afghanistan - which had already been decided before the kidnappings - by year's end. It said it had also promised to send no more "Christian missionaries" into the country.

The Taliban said Seoul had also agreed to order all missionaries back home by Friday.

A total of 23 South Koreans were kidnapped July 19 as they were driving from Kabul to Kandahar. Two men were put to death after the expiry of Taliban-set deadlines for the Afghan authorities to meet their demands, and two ill female hostages were released on August 13 in what the militants called a "goodwill gesture".