Talks between the Taliban and a contingent of South Korean diplomats to secure the release of 21 Korean hostages are giving cause for optimisim. The Taliban say they expect to release those held. A spokesperson for the faction Mawlawi Nasrullah said “We are happy with the negotiations. We have been assured and we want to assure all the people in the world that the Koreans will return to their country and their homes.”
The Koreans, from a Christian volunteer group, were kidnapped from a bus in the Ghanzi area three weeks ago. Taliban gunmen have already killed two male hostages and threatened to kill more among the 21 that remain, 18 of them women, if Taliban prisoners were not released in exchange.
The South Korean government is under intense domestic pressure to secure the release of its nationals, but has no power the grant the kidnappers demand for a swap. Discussions are being held in a Red Crescent building in Ghanzi where the Afghan government has guaranteed the safety of the Taliban negotiators.