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Karzai Rules Out Action to Free Hostages That Could Result in More Kidnappings


Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he is doing everything possible to free 21 South Koreans, many of them ailing, who have been held hostage by the Taleban for more than two weeks.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN television, Mr. Karzai described the kidnappers as "neither Muslims nor Afghans" - because most of the hostages are women, and true Muslims and Afghans would not commit such crimes against a woman.

Asked if his government will negotiate directly with the Taleban, Mr. Karzai replied that he would do anything to free the Koreans that will not "encourage" more hostage-taking. A shipment of medicine intended for the captives was dispatched Sunday.

The Taleban wants Kabul to release some Taleban prisoners in exchange for the South Koreans.

The kidnappers seized 23 South Korean Christian aid volunteers on July 19, and since then have killed two male hostages.

One of the Korean women told VOA's Afghan Service Saturday that many of the captives are ill, and that she is unsure how they can survive under present conditions. Two of the women are reported to have serious ailments.

A private Afghan clinic sent off a shipment of antibiotics, painkillers and other medicines for the Koreans on Sunday. The head of the clinic, Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, says the supplies were delivered to a location in the Qarabagh district of southern Ghazni province that had been prearranged with the Taleban.

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