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Second South Korean Hostage Killed In Afghanistan --> Medical service volunteer Shim Sung-min before his departure to Afghanistan on July 13 (epa) July 31, 2007 -- Police say they found today the bullet-riddled body of one of the 22 remaining South Korean hostages held by suspected Taliban rebels in central Afghanistan.

Alishah Ahmadzai, provincial police chief of Ghazni, said the dead body was found in the Orzo area of Andar district.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry identified the victim as Shim Sung-min, reported to be aged 29. The government in Seoul condemned the killing as an "outrageous and inhuman act."

Wahidullah Mujadadi, the chief hostage negotiator for the Afghan government, speaking today with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan by phone from Ghazni, said the talks with the militants will continue.

"We were negotiating with them to extend the deadline," Mujadadi said. "But they did not keep their promise. I feel sorry about that. Our negotiations are still going on in a bid to secure the release of the remaining 21 Korean hostages."

Foreign ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations today called for the immediate release of the hostages. The ministers from 16 Asian nations, attending a regional meeting in Manila, held a silent prayer for the slain hostages.

Negotiating With The Taliban

A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai today said that the Afghan government should not accept the Taliban's demands that imprisoned militants be released in exchange for the surviving hostages.

The spokesman, Humayun Hamidzada, said accepting demands from terrorists "would only encourage more kidnapping."

The South Korean government has reportedly said it has no effective means to influence decisions by the Afghan government regarding the release of Taliban prisoners. Seoul has expressed hope that Afghan officials will "take a flexible attitude" to save the lives of the remaining hostages.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusof Ahmadi said that if the Taliban does not get a positive reply on its demands about the release of Taliban prisoners by the morning of August 1, then "we will start killing other hostages."

He said the Taliban will first kill the group's men, then the women, and described the July 30 killing as the first phase of consecutive executions. Most of the hostages are reportedly women.

On July 25, Taliban militants killed the leader of the aid workers, 42-year-old Presbyterian pastor Bae Hyung-kyu.

(compiled from agency reports)

The Afghan Insurgency

A U.S. military vehicle damaged by insurgents near Kandahar (epa)

HOMEGROWN OR IMPORTED? As attacks against Afghan and international forces continue relentlessly, RFE/RL hosted a briefing to discuss the nature of the Afghan insurgency. The discussion featured Marvin Weinbaum, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and RFE/RL Afghanistan analyst Amin Tarzi.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 83 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


RFE/RL's coverage of Afghanistan.


For weekly news and analysis on Afghanistan by e-mail, subscribe to "RFE/RL Afghanistan Report."