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Taleban Threatens to Kill Another Hostage


Taleban militants in Afghanistan have threatened to kill another hostage if the government does not release rebel prisoners.

A purported spokesman for the group, Shahbuddin Atal, said Monday the Taleban will kill one of five members of an Afghan medical team who were kidnapped last month if the government refuses to negotiate. An Afghan doctor, three nurses and their driver were kidnapped on March 27 in the southern province of Kandahar.

On Sunday, the Taleban beheaded an Afghan translator kidnapped in another incident last month along with an Italian journalist.

The group said it killed Ajmal Naqshbandi because Afghan authorities failed to meet demands to free Taleban prisoners.

U.S. officials condemned the beheading as barbaric, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called it an "absurd crime."

Naqshbandi was working with Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province when they were kidnapped with their driver on March 5.

Taleban militants later beheaded the Afghan driver, but freed Mastrogiacomo in return for the release of Taleban detainees by Afghan authorities. Mastrogiacomo says he is deeply saddened by the news of Naqshbandi's killing.

In another development, seven NATO troops were killed Sunday by roadside bombs in southern Afghanistan.

One bomb near the southern city of Kandahar killed six Canadian soldiers, while a separate blast killed one NATO soldier and wounded two others. NATO officials have not given the location or nationality of the casualties in the other attack.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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