| A relative of one of the kidnapped Korean hostages prays at Seongnam, north of Seoul, on Monday. (Reuters)
Kabul, July 30 (Reuters): Taliban kidnappers shot dead a male South Korean hostage today, a spokesman said, accusing the Afghan government of not listening to rebel demands for the release of Taliban prisoners.
“We shot dead a male captive because the government did not listen to our demands,” spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said.
“We killed one of the male hostages at 6.30 this evening (1400 GMT) because the Kabul administration did not listen to our repeated demands,” he told Reuters by telephone from an unknown location.
He said the Taliban would kill more hostages if Kabul ignored their demand to release rebel prisoners, but gave no new deadline. He said the body had been dumped by the side of a road.
The shooting was a bloody rejection of the authorities’ request for more time for talks on freeing the South Korean hostages after the expiry of a rebel deadline earlier in the day.
The Taliban seized 23 Korean Christians, 18 of them women, 11 days ago from a bus in Ghazni on the main highway south from Kabul and killed the leader of the group on Wednesday after an earlier deadline passed.
The hostage crisis has focused attention on growing lawlessness in Afghanistan with Taliban influence, suicide bombs and attacks spreading to many areas previously considered safe and making road travel between major cities a risky affair.
A spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, where the hostages were seized, said earlier that Afghan authorities had asked for two more days in which to settle the hostage crisis peacefully.
The Taliban had earlier extended its “final” deadline but insisted the release of Taliban prisoners was the only way to settle the crisis. Yesterday, the Taliban ruled out further talks after they said government negotiators demanded the unconditional release of the hostages.