A new deadline has been set by the hostage-takers holding 22 South Koreans in Afghanistan, according to a spokesman for the Taliban. The security forces say they are doing all they can to find the group, but have ruled out a prisoner swap. Negotiations have repeatedly snagged over the militants’ demand for Kabul to swap jailed insurgents for the Christian hostages. A Taliban spokesman said if that demand is not met by noon local time today, then the hostages will die. The group’s leader was killed several days ago but other deadlines have passed since then apparently without further deaths.
The Taliban have also demanded that the Pope condemn the loss of civilian lives in attacks involving the international forces in Afghanistan. Earlier, Benedict the 16th had used his Sunday message to condemn the kidnapping as “a grave violation of human dignity”. For the families of the 22 hostages, however, the torment continues. 18 of the group are women. They were seized while travelling by bus in the south of the country on July the 19th.