The 19 remaining South Korean hostages held by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are to be freed, according to the South Korean Presidency. Two women, of the original group of 23, were released as a gesture of goodwill during the first round of negotiations. Two men from the group of Christian missionaries had already been murdered.
The kidnappers want South Korean troops out of Afghanistan, and all missionary activities to stop. The government in Seoul had already decided to withdraw its small team of engineers and medical staff by the end of the year.
The volunteers were seized from a bus on July 19th. South Korea then banned its nationals from going to Afghanistan. A Taliban spokesman said the hostage negotiations had been successful. South Korea said the release itself could take some time.