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Taliban: Male hostage shot dead

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Taliban says male South Korean hostage has been shot dead
  • Kidnappers want Taliban prisoners released from Afghan jails
  • The group of 23 Christian Koreans were abducted on July 19
  • Militants shot dead one captive hours after a deadline passed Wednesday
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KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- Taliban kidnappers shot dead a male South Korean hostage on Monday, a spokesman said, accusing the Afghan government of not listening to rebel demands.

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Protestors participate in an anti-war rally calling for the safe return of the kidnapped South Koreans.

"We shot dead a male captive because the government did not listen to our demands," spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters by telephone.

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 talks and dialogue are going on to persuade the Taliban to release the hostages," said deputy Interior Minister Munir Mangal prior to the reportes shooting.

Mangal also heads a government team tasked to release the Christian captives.

The Taliban had extended its "final" deadline at the request of Afghan mediators, but insisted the release of Taliban prisoners was the only way to settle the crisis.

When asked by Reuters if the government would bow to the Taliban demand, Mangal said "all options" were under deliberation.

Monday's first deadline was issued by the Taliban leadership council, led by elusive Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, which gave the threat to kill the hostages more weight than several other deadlines that have passed without incident.

The Taliban seized the Korean Christians, most of them women, 11 days ago from a bus in Ghazni province to the southwest of Kabul and killed the leader of the group on Wednesday after an earlier deadline passed.

On Sunday, the Taliban ruled out further talks after they said government negotiators demanded the unconditional release of the hostages and a senior Afghan official said that force might be used to rescue them if talks failed.

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The Afghan government had wanted the Taliban to first release the 18 women hostages, but the insurgents demanded the government release its prisoners first, leading to deadlock, said a Kabul-based Western security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.

President Hamid Karzai has remained silent throughout the hostage ordeal, except for condemning the abduction, the largest by the Taliban since U.S.-led forces overthrew the movement's radical Islamic government in 2001.

He came under harsh criticism for freeing a group of Taliban in March in exchange for the release of an Italian journalist.

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The abduction of the Koreans came a day after two German aid workers and their five Afghan colleagues were seized by Taliban in neighboring Wardak province.

The body of one of the Germans has been found with gunshots and the Taliban still hold the others along with four Afghans. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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