VARIOUS: Afghan government may use force to free South Korean hostages if talks with Taliban fail
- Title: VARIOUS: Afghan government may use force to free South Korean hostages if talks with Taliban fail
- Date: 28th July 2007
- Summary: GHAZNI CITY STREET, PEOPLE WALKING/ MINARET
- Reuters ID: LVA77Z1ZZYHE9GDTIPJUS18TY3CP
- Duration: 00:00:05
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- Topics: International Relations
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- Story Text: A team of Afghan negotiators trying to secure the release of South Korean hostages held by the Taliban say the government will use force if talks break down. In South Korea relatives and citizens urge Seoul to do more to rescue their countrymen held for over a week.
Afghan authorities on Saturday (July 28) were working towards negotiating the release of 22 South Korean Christians being held captive by the Taliban.
Police in Ghazni, where the hostages are believed to be held, set up checkpoints, stopping cars and doing body searches of people entering the city in an attempt to avoid any possible action by Taliban militants.
Police officer Isaq Ali, said, "As you know, a number of foreigners were abducted by the Taliban. We are here to make sure these kind of things don't happen again in the the future."
Afghan mediators, including politicians, clerics and tribal leaders were attempting to hold more talks with Taliban rebels to seek the release of the hostages, but authorities warned they may use force if the talks fail, a senior official said.
Deputy Interior Minister General Munir Mangal said that the government has dispatched some medicine to the hostages but warned that if the talks were not successful then force could be considered to release the Koreans.
"We believe in the talks and if dialogue fails then we will resort to other means," said Mangal. When asked if that meant use of force, he replied: "Certainly".
Earlier this week the leader of the kidnapped Christian group, Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu, was executed.
In South Korea his father urged his government to work hard for the remaining 22 captives release.
Bae Ho-joong said his son's dead body should only return home after the remaining kidnapped are freed.
"How can only my Hyung-kyu return home leaving the volunteers, who went together to the land, behind? I think my son, the dead, would agree with that," said Bae.
On Friday the Taliban said the 22 are still alive, but some are unwell.
The spokesman promised no more deadlines for their execution while negotiations continue.
On Satuday a hundred anti-war activists held a rally in solidarity with the hostages and to demand Seoul withdraw South Korean troops from Afghanistan.
Most of the Korean captives are in their 20s and 30s and include nurses and English teachers. Yonhap News Agency said they were providing only free medical or educational services in Afghanistan with no missionary intentions.
The Koreans are the biggest group of foreigners kidnapped so far in the Taliban campaign to oust the U.S.-backed government and force out foreign troops.
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- Embargoed:12th August 2007 13:00