Police find body of 2nd slain SKorean

Police at daybreak Tuesday discovered the body of a second South Korean hostage slain by the Taliban, officials said. A purported Taliban spokesman had said the hostage was killed because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents

The Al-Jazeera television network, meanwhile, showed footage that it said was seven female hostages in Afghanistan.

The victim’s body was found on the side of the road in the village of Arizo Kalley in Andar District, some 6 miles west of Ghazni city, said Abdul Rahim Deciwal, the chief administrator in the area.

The victim, who appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, was wearing white trousers and flip-flops, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. Police lifted his body from the side of the road, put him on a blanket and into the back of a waiting police truck. His face was covered in blood, as was the ground where he lay.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive Monday evening because the government had not met Taliban demands to trade prisoners for the Christian volunteers, who were in their 12th day of captivity Monday.

“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.”

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.

The body of pastor Bae Hyung-kyu arrived back in South Korea on Monday, where the families of the remaining hostages pleaded for their loved ones’ release.

Relatives have gathered at Saemmul Community Church in Bundang, just outside Seoul. They waited anxiously for developments — sharing prayers, meals and sleepless nights as they followed 24-hour television newscasts.

Seo Jung-bae, 59, whose daughter and son were among the hostages, appealed to the Taliban.

“Please, please send my children back so I can hold them in my arms,” he told The Associated Press, fighting back tears in a plea to the captors. “Our families are the same. Your family is precious, so is mine.”

Speaking from an emergency center set up by the church, he said his children had traveled to the country to assist Afghans in need. “They went there to help, thinking they (Afghans) are their friends.”

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.

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