A so-called final deadline set by the Taliban kidnappers of a group of South Korean Christians has expired. It puts the lives of the hostages in serious danger. The militants have threatened to kill them unless their demands are met. The rebels have already shot dead the group’s leader, leaving 22 other captives, most of them women.
The abduction of the South Koreans in Afghanistan has been condemned by that country’s president, Hamid Karzai. But he has, so far, ruled out releasing Taliban prisoners in return for their freedom. The Afghan leader was strongly criticised after releasing five rebels in exchange for an Italian hostage in March. Seoul has been in close touch with the Afghan government over the negotiations, but on Sunday, amid deadlock, the militants ruled out further talks.