Taliban will question church group of 18 abducted

Taliban abducted 18 members of a South Korean church group, and a purported spokesman said Friday that it will question the 15 women and three men about their activities in Afghanistan before deciding their fate.

Taliban will question church group of 18 abducted
Taliban abducted 18 members of a South Korean church group, and a purported spokesman said Friday that it will question the 15 women and three men about their activities in Afghanistan before deciding their fate.

The Koreans were seized Thursday in Ghazni province as they were traveling by bus from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar, said Ali Shah Ahmadzai, the provincial police chief.

The driver, released late Thursday, said there were 18 women and five men on the bus, Ahmadzai said. The discrepancy in figures could not be immediately clarified.

Several dozen Taliban fighters stopped the bus and drove it into the desert before abandoning the vehicle and forcing the group to walk for about one hour, Ahmadzai said.

The driver was handed over to the local villagers, while the fate of Koreans remains unknown, he said.

It was unclear what the Koreans were doing in Afghanistan.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry confirmed that some 20 South Koreans were kidnapped in an area near the capital Thursday afternoon.

However, ministry spokesman Cho Hee-yong did not release details on exactly how many were kidnapped, or who the gunmen were.

"The government plans to do exert every possible effort so that our kidnapped citizens can return safely as soon as possible," Cho told reporters in Seoul.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that the hostages were members of the Saemmul Community Church in Bundang, just south of the South Korean capital, Seoul.

An official at the Presbyterian church confirmed 20 of its members were in Afghanistan for volunteer work, adding that the church was currently unable to reach them.

"The Foreign Ministry has informed us this morning that the abductees could be our church members, so we are trying to confirm it," the official said on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the media.

The group left South Korea last Friday and was to return on July 23, she said.

Thursday's abductions came a day after two Germans and five of their Afghan colleagues, working on a dam project, were kidnapped in central Wardak province.

On June 28, another German man was kidnapped in western Afghanistan, but he was released after a week.


AP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Temmuz 2007, 15:09
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