“The government had assured the group it would release eight members of the Taliban as part of an exchange deal for the freedom of a similar number of the hostages.”
“Korean hostages alive in Afghanistan, say Taliban,” by Yousuf Azimy for Reuters:
GHAZNI, Afghanistan (Reuters) – The remaining 22 South Koreans held hostage in Afghanistan are alive, a Taliban spokesman said on Friday, and the group will not set further deadlines as it negotiates with the government on freeing them.
A government official also said the Christian volunteers, whose leader was killed two days ago by their Taliban captors, were alive, adding an Afghan delegation was in talks with the militants.
“They are alive and fine,” Munir Mangal, a deputy interior minister who also heads an Afghan team trying to secure the freedom of the hostages, told reporters in Ghazni. Medicines had been sent for some of the captives who are ill, he added.
Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said the government had assured the group it would release eight members of the Taliban as part of an exchange deal for the freedom of a similar number of the hostages.
“They are alive. The talks are going on and we are not giving further deadlines for the government has assured us that it wants to resolve the issue through talks,” he told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.
Earlier, he had accused the government of “killing time and playing tricks” and had said the Taliban would kill the captives if rebel prisoners were not released by the Afghan government by Friday noon (0730 GMT).