- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2007

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hard-line militia killed a second Korean hostage today because Afghanistan failed to release insurgents from prisons. Government officials said they hadn’t recovered the body and couldn’t confirm the claim.

Militant spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive because the government had not come through on promises to release Taliban prisoners.

The Kabul and Korean governments are lying and cheating. They did not meet their promise of releasing Taliban prisoners, Ahmadi said by phone from an undisclosed location. He claims to speak for the Taliban.

The Taliban warns the government if the Afghan government won’t release Taliban prisoners, then at any time, the Taliban could kill another Korean hostage.

Ghazni Gov. Marajudin Pathan said officials were aware of the Taliban’s claim but hadn’t recovered a body. He said police were looking but he couldn’t say if they might find anything before daybreak.

Ghazni is a very vast area, so we really don’t know where the body is, Mr. Pathan said.

The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans riding on a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway on July 19. The militants have told the government they want 23 Taliban prisoners released from jail in exchange for the Koreans’ lives.

The Taliban has set several deadlines for the Koreans’ lives. Last Wednesday, the insurgents killed their first hostage, a male leader of the group.