Second Korean Hostage Body Found; New Deadline Looms

( [email protected] ) Aug 01, 2007 02:43 PM EDT
The body of a second South Korean Christian hostage killed in Afghanistan was found Tuesday as the Taliban’s new deadline loomed for the fate of the remaining 21 hostages.
This undated photo released from Saemmul Church via Yonhap, Tuesday, July 31, 2007, shows South Korean victim Shim Sung-min, one of the 23 South Koreans kidnapped in Afghanistan. The Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that 29-year-old Shim was the second South Korean hostage killed by the Taliban in a standoff where 21 people remain captive. (Photo: Saemmul Church / Handout)

The body of a second South Korean Christian hostage killed in Afghanistan was found Tuesday as the Taliban’s new deadline loomed for the fate of the remaining 21 hostages.

The blood-stained, bullet-riddled body of a man was dumped in a field of clover in Arzoo village about six miles from the eastern city of Ghazni, according to Reuters.

“If the Kabul administration and Korean government do not give a positive reply to our demand about the release of Taliban prisoners by tomorrow 12:00 (Wednesday 3:30 a.m. EDT), then we will start killing other hostages,” purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf told Reuters by phone from an undisclosed location.

The Taliban are demanding the release of rebel prisoners in exchange for the Korean Christian hostages and the withdrawal of the 200 South Korean troops in Afghanistan.

However, Afghan government are thus far resisting to submit to the request after Afghan President Hamid Karzai came under heavy criticism for releasing Taliban militants in exchange for an Italian reporter in March.

"We shouldn't encourage kidnapping by actually accepting their demands ... In this situation we are doing what is the best for the interests of the hostages, and government," Humayun Hamidzada, spokesman for Karzai, told reporters, according to Reuters.

"If we keep on responding positively to the demands of terrorists, we will face more problems," Hamidzada added.

However, South Korea said though it “is well aware of how the international community deals with these kinds of abduction cases,” according to a statement issued from the president’s office, “But it also believes that it would be worthwhile to use flexibility in the cause of saving the precious lives of those still in captivity and is appealing [to] the international community to do so,” according to The Associated Press.

The statement came after the body of the second victim, identified as 29 year-old Shim Sung-min was found about 50 miles from where the original group of 23 Korean Christian volunteers was abducted on July 19, near Qarabagh on the main highway.

Shim was said to have quit his job at a Seoul IT company two months ago to become a teacher to the disabled at a church in Seoul, according to Agence France-Presse.

Shim's mother reportedly cried hysterically after hearing the victim may have been her son. "Why did you kill him? Please save his life," she said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Shim’s father said, "I think they act like they are not human beings," according to AP.

Last Wednesday, insurgents shot dead the leader of the aid group, youth pastor Bae Hyung-kyu on his 42nd birthday.

“They did not go to Afghan to fight," said Seo Jeung-bae, whose daughter and son are among the hostages, according to Reuters. "So please, don't let there be anymore sacrifices.

"I can't save them. I wish I could just die," she cried.

The kidnapping of the 23 South Korean Christians was the largest abduction of foreigners in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.