Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan say they will begin killing a group of South Korean Christian hostages by 1400 local time (0930 UTC) unless their demands are met. VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.

The Taleban made the threat Wednesday afternoon, saying they would begin killing, in their words, "a few" of the 23 South Korean hostages they seized last week in Afghanistan.

In South Korea, relatives of the hostages agonized over the latest deadline.

Kim Hyung-seok, president of the aid foundation that sent the 23 travelers, says some family members fainted at word of the threat.

The kidnappers have demanded the release of several fellow insurgents imprisoned in Afghanistan.

South Korean officials privately confirm they are devoting intense attention to the matter.

South Korea bans most travel to Afghanistan, where a few hundred its soldiers and civilian personnel provide non-combat support to international security efforts.

The 23 hostages, 18 of them women, made their trip illegally.