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Taleban Frees Remaining South Korean Hostages

  • VOA News

Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan have released all of their South Korean captives, ending a six-week-long hostage drama.

The last seven hostages were handed over to Red Cross officials on Thursday in central Ghazni province.

The kidnappers began freeing the hostages on Wednesday, after striking a deal with South Korean negotiators.

Seoul agreed to withdraw 200 of its non-combat troops from Afghanistan by year's end -- which it had already planned to do -- and to suspend missionary work in the country.

The South Korean government says the freed hostages could return home as soon as Friday.

Taleban militants abducted 23 South Koreans as they traveled by bus to southern Afghanistan as part of a Christian aid group on July 19th.

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Later that month, the militants executed two male hostages. Weeks later, they released two female hostages in a goodwill gesture.

The deal between the militants and South Korea has been criticized by some Afghan officials who say it will only encourage more abductions. Reports say South Korea paid a substantial ransom to the Taleban, but both sides say no money was exchanged.

The Taleban is still holding a German engineer and four Afghans hostage. The German was one of two engineers abducted last month. The other German engineer was shot to death by his captors after he collapsed.
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