Mystery surrounds claims that two female South Korean hostages had been freed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Originally Taliban spokesmen said the two women were seriously ill, and had been released. But later they denied that, and said the women were still being held. South Korean officials have held two days of talks with the Taliban, hoping to secure the release of the church volunteers, who were seized three weeks ago.
Taliban negotiators said the talks were going well, and the remaining captives would be freed. Two hostages, both men, have already been murdered, and the remaining men and women have been threatened with death unless Taliban prisoners are freed in exchange. The Afghan government has refused, saying that would encourage more kidnappings.