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Taliban kidnap 22 South Korean volunteers


Kabul : Afghan security forces are hunting for 22 South Koreans abducted by Taliban militants from the bus they were traveling on in the south, officials said Friday.

The militants stopped a bus in Leyuni Bazaar, in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province, Thursday and abducted a group of South Korean church volunteers, Mohammad Zaman, deputy police chief told DPA.

Zaman could not say how many victims were on the bus, but the Taliban said on their website that they has arrested 22 South Koreans who were on their way from Kandahar to the capital Kabul.

"The 22 arrested South Koreans have been taken to a safe place by our mujahideen and we will act regarding their fate based on decisions by Taliban council," Qari Mohammd Yousif, Taliban spokesman was quoted as saying on the website.

South Korea's foreign ministry said they had received an intelligence report saying 20 South Koreans were abducted and they were members of the Saemmul Church in Seongnam on the outskirts of Seoul, according to Yonhap news agency.

The ministry identified the victims as minister Bae Hyeong Gyu, seven men and 13 women who were doing Christian volunteer work in Kandahar.

Zaman said that the victims did not have any security escort, nor did they inform police officials regarding their trip on the Kabul-Kandahar highway where Taliban fighters often attack Afghan and international security convoys.

The police chief said that hundreds of soldiers are searching village by village to track down the kidnapped Koreans.

The abduction came a day after two German nationals along with their five Afghan colleagues were kidnapped by unknown gunmen in neighbouring Maidan Wardak province Wednesday.