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Taliban free two S. Korean hostages

Aug. 13, 2007 at 11:57 AM

GHAZNI, Afghanistan, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Afghani officials confirmed the release Monday of two of 21 South Koreans being held by Taliban militants.

Kim Kyung-ja and Kim Gina said nothing to reporters as they were escorted by Afghani officials into offices in Ghazni, CNN reported.

The two women, who had been reported to be seriously ill, were freed as a gesture of good will toward South Korea, a Taliban spokesman said.

In all, the Taliban kidnapped 23 South Korean Christian aid workers July 19 and since have killed two men from the group.

"We feel fortunate that at least some of the hostages have been released, but we again urge the kidnappers to immediately release all our citizens they hold hostage," a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters in Seoul, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Monday’s release followed face-to-face talks between Taliban and South Korea negotiators, with the Taliban insisting on the release of militant prisoners from Afghani jails before more hostages will be released.

Afghani officials have rejected a prisoner-for-hostage swap but have not publicly ruled out a ransom for the hostages, CNN reported.

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