Some South Korean hostages might be freed Friday

By Xinhua

Kabul : Some South Korean hostages might be released by the Taliban before 12 p.m. (0730 GMT) Friday, an Afghan tribal elder engaged in negotiations told Xinhua.

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"I am hopeful that at least some South Korean hostages would be freed before Friday noon after some deals are made," Wahidullah Mujadadi said.

Meanwhile, a purported Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taliban has given a new deadline for 22 South Korean hostages until 12 p.m. Friday.

The Taliban would decide what to do next if its demands are not met, he added.

However, Ahmadi still stuck to the exchange of eight Taliban prisoners for eight hostages.

The Taliban killed one South Korean hostage Wednesday whose body was found by the police.

Ahmadi said the hostage was killed, as Afghan authorities did not show enough sincerity in the talks and the Taliban also wanted to press the South Korean government to accept their demands.

The 23 South Koreans were kidnapped by Taliban militants on a road in the central Ghazni province July 19.

Afghan and the US-led coalition forces have cordoned off suspected Taliban hideouts in Qarabagh district of Ghazni to secure the release of the hostages.

Meanwhile, Ahmadi said militants would execute all hostages if the troops recklessly carried out an attack.

The Taliban also demanded the withdrawal of 200 South Korean troops from this country. The South Korean government said the soldiers would be pulled out at the end of 2007 as scheduled.

Taliban militants have frequently carried out kidnappings in Afghanistan over the past two years, and killed some hostages.