Taliban undecided to release two sick hostages
As usual it has been reported that the Taliban are all talk and no action when it comes to negotiations. To date two Korean Women have not been released as previously reported. Time will tell if they are released today. The rest of the Hostages fate remains in Limbo.
GHAZNI, Afghanistan (AP) - A Taliban spokesman reiterated Sunday that the militants will soon free two sick, female South Korean hostages but said the timing of the release hasn't yet been decided.
The International Red Cross said it had no information about an upcoming release.
The spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said the two would be released in part because Taliban leaders were happy with the progress being made in face-to-face talks between two Taliban representatives and South Korean negotiators.
"The time hasn't been decided. It could be today," Ahmadi said of the release, reiterating an announcement he first made on Saturday.
The reliability of Ahmadi's information is questionable. Some of his reports turn out to be true but some do not.
Franz Rauchenstein, an official with the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Sunday he had no information about "when and how and where the hostages are going to be released," referring to the two women. Past releases in other hostage situations have been co-ordinated through the Red Cross.
Two Taliban leaders and four South Korean officials met Saturday for a second day of face-to-face talks. The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans, all volunteers from a church group, last month but later executed two male captives by gunfire.
Th Taliban have demanded that 21 militant prisoners be released in exchange for the Koreans' lives, although the government has said it won't release any prisoners.
The two Taliban leaders said Saturday that the Koreans would "definitely" be released, possibly as soon as "today or tomorrow," though South Korea downplayed that claim, saying it didn't think a release would come so quickly.
Talks lasted several hours on Saturday, though no new negotiations were held Sunday morning and it wasn't clear that any would be held in person the rest of the day.
Marajudin Pathan, the local governor, said late Saturday that negotiators had not discussed freeing the two women.
"Qari Ahmadi (the Taliban spokesman) is somewhere in Pakistan," Pathan said. "He's just running his mouth. They (the Taliban) are always giving contradictory statements."
Pathan said he did not think the hostage crisis would be resolved by acceding to Taliban demands to release their imprisoned militants, "but we'll see if it's by some other avenue." He refused to specify if that meant a ransom payment, though he has said previously he thought money would resolve the situation.
Mullah Qari Bashir, one of the Taliban negotiators, said on Saturday that the face-to-face talks were going well and that the Taliban were sticking with their original demand of a prisoner release.
Asked when the Koreans might be freed, he said: "Hopefully today or tomorrow."
"I'm very optimistic. The negotiations are continuing on a positive track," Bashir said.