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South Korean Officials Rule Out Rescue Attempt for Hostages, says Afghan Minister


Afghanistan's defense minister says the South Korean government has been unwilling to allow Afghan forces to stage a rescue mission for a group of South Koreans held hostage by Taleban insurgents.

At a news conference in Kabul Saturday, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Kabul has been willing to send a rescue team ever since the South Koreans were kidnapped five weeks ago, but that Seoul objects to military intervention.

A total of 23 South Korean members of a Christian aid group were traveling through Ghazni province when insurgents seized them July 19. Two male hostages were executed, and two female hostages were freed last week.

The kidnappers are demanding that Kabul release militants being held prisoner.

Afghanistan's defense minister also said a German engineer who was kidnapped a day before the South Koreans came close to being freed by his Taleban captors, but Wardak said the kidnappers decided to wait for developments in the South Korean case.

They shot to death a second German hostage after he suffered a heart attack. They are demanding withdrawal of German forces from Afghanistan in exchange for the freedom of the surviving hostage.

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

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