Confusion surrounds the fate of two German engineers being held hostage by a Taliban group in Afghanistan. Earlier reports that both men had been murdered have been questioned after Germany’s foreign ministry said it had received no independent confirmation of the killings. But Afghan security forces now say one of the hostages has died from a heart attack while the second is still alive. The two men, along with six Afghan colleagues, were seized on Wednesday, southwest of Kabul. The following day, a group of up to 23 South Korean Christians were seized in the same area.
Concern is growing after reports that the Taliban are threatening to kill the South Korean hostages if Seoul refuses to withdraw its troops. Some 15 women are among the group, described by the Korean government as medical volunteers. South Korea says its military presence in the country is in a non-combatant capacity. The seizure of the Koreans is the largest-scale kidnapping of foreigners so far in the militant campaign to oust the US-backed government and force out foreign troops. Last April, two French aid workers were also taken but they were eventually released unharmed.