- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan police discovered the bullet-riddled body of a South Korean hostage yesterday as the Taliban released eight other captives, who were taken to a U.S. military base, officials said.

Because of a recent spike in kidnappings — including an attempt against a Danish citizen yesterday — police announced that foreigners were no longer allowed to leave the Afghan capital without their permission.

The male South Korean victim was found with 10 bullet holes in his head, chest and stomach in the Mushaki area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province, the region where 23 South Koreans were kidnapped last week, said Abdul Rahman, a police officer.

A police official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said that militants told him the hostage was sick and couldn’t walk and was therefore shot.

Two Western officials said some of the 23 hostages had been released. One of the officials, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to share the information, said six females and two males were taken to the main U.S. base in Ghazni.

An Afghan official involved in the negotiations earlier said a large sum of money would be paid to free eight of the hostages.

The South Koreans, including 18 women, were kidnapped July 19 while riding a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, Afghanistan’s main thoroughfare. Fourteen Koreans apparently remain in Taliban hands.

The South Korean church that the abductees attend has said it will suspend at least some of its volunteer work in Afghanistan.

It also stressed that the Koreans abducted were not involved in any Christian missionary work, saying they provided only medical and other volunteer aid to distressed people in the war-ravaged country.

Two Germans were also kidnapped last week. One was found dead, and the other apparently remains captive. A Danish reporter of Afghan origin escaped a kidnap attempt in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, the Danish Foreign Ministry said.

Elsewhere, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said a soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan yesterday by a rocket-propelled grenade. ISAF didn’t release the soldier’s nationality, but the majority of troops in the east are American.

The U.S.-led coalition said 20 suspected Taliban militants were killed yesterday after a failed ambush on coalition and Afghan troops in Kandahar province.

In Washington, a top U.S. commander said attacks by militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border doubled last month over a similar period in 2006 but are decreasing now because of Pakistan’s new military operations on its side of the frontier.

Army Maj. Gen. David Rodriguez also said there has been a 50 percent to 60 percent increase over last year in the number of foreign fighters flowing into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

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