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Afghan Parliamentarian, Tribesman Confirm Release of South Korean Hostages to Radio Free Afghanistan

(Washington, DC–August 13, 2007) During separate telephone calls to Radio Free Afghanistan, two members of the team negotiating the release of a group of South Koreans being held hostage by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan confirmed the release of two hostages today. The negotiators also expressed optimism that the remaining hostages may be released in the coming days.

Afghan member of parliament Khial Mohammad told Radio Free Afghanistan, “Yes, I confirm their freedom, but negotiations are underway, and I am more optimistic now. I am 95 percent sure that if God’s willing, the others will not be killed.”

Another member of the negotiating team, a tribesman named Mirzakhan, told Dawakhan Meenapal, Radio Free Afghanistan’s correspondent in Ghazni province, “They handed over two of the hostages to us. We will hand them over to [International Committee of the Red Cross]… the negotiations are going well and the rest [of the hostages hopefully] will also be released within three or four days.”

According to an article on RFE/RL’s website, citing agency reports, a tribal elder from Ghazni Province, Haji Zahir, received the two women earlier today from Taliban fighters and transported them to officials from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who in turn handed them over to South Korean officials.

The two women were among the remaining 21 Christian aid workers from South Korea who were kidnapped in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province on July 19. The Taliban has executed two of the South Koreans, both males.

Radio Free Afghanistan, the Dari- and Pashto-language service of RFE/RL, broadcasts 12 hours of programming a day, with programs produced in Prague and the service’s Kabul Bureau and transmitted to listeners via shortwave, satellite and AM and FM signals provided by the International Broadcasting Bureau. Radio Free Afghanistan programming is also available via the Internet, at the service’s trilingual website and at; English-language news about events in Afghanistan can be found on the RFE/RL website.