AFGHANISTAN: Taliban agree to release all Korean hostages

The South Korean government announced earlier today that the Taliban have agreed to release the 19 Christian hostages that they have been holding captive for the past six weeks. Relatives of the hostages (pictured) expressed their joy and relief at the news. “I would like to dance,” said Cho Myung-ho, mother of 28-year-old hostage Lee Joo-yeon.

A spokesman for the South Korean President told reporters. ‚ÄúThe two sides reached agreement on the release of all 19 Korean hostages on condition that the Korean government withdraws its troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year and bans missionary work by Korean Christians in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban release two women hostages

Yesterday, the Taliban released two of the 21 Korean Christians who have been held hostage for the past three weeks. The two women, Kim Ji Na (aged 32) and Kim Kyong Ja (aged 37) were released into the custody of a tribal elder who drove them to a pre-arranged location in Ghazni province where they were handed over to representatives of the International Red Crescent. The two women cried as they were handed over.

The women were taken to an American military base in Ghazni city where they were medically examined – both were said to be ill but no further details have been released.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban kill second Korean hostage

A second hostage has been killed by Taliban kidnappers in Afghanistan. Earlier today, Afghan police recovered the body of Shim Sung-min (pictured) from the roadside at Arzoo, some 80 km (50 miles) from where the group of 18 women and five men were seized from a bus twelve days ago.

Shim Sung-min (aged 29) was an IT worker who had gone to Afghanistan on a short-term aid trip with a group of young people from Sammul Presbyterian Church in Bundang, South Korea.

AFGHANISTAN: Ordeal continues for Korean hostages

The ordeal of twenty two South Korean Christians being held hostage in Afghanistan continued today as a seventh deadline, set by their Taliban kidnappers, passed this morning. It is now reported that a further deadline has been set for 12.30pm (Irish Time) on Wednesday.

The Taliban have said the hostages (eighteen women and four men) have been divided into small groups and are being held in three different provinces, in an attempt to thwart any rescue mission.

The kidnappers and Afghan negotiators have resumed talks with the kidnappers insisting that the release of Taliban prisoners is the only way to settle the crisis.

AFGHANISTAN: Abdul Rahman flies to Italy

Abdul Rahman, who had faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam, has left Afghanistan for Italy where he has been granted asylum, the Italian foreign ministry said today.

Abdul’s departure happened as Afghanistan’s parliament demanded that the government prevent him from leaving the country.

Italy has close ties with Afghanistan, whose former king, Mohammed Zaher Shah, was allowed to live with his family in exile in Rome for 30 years. The former royals returned to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

AFGHANISTAN: Abdul Rahman released from prison

Abdul Rahman was released from Kabul’s main high security Pul-e-Charki prison late on Monday night after officials decided he was mentally unfit to stand trial. Abdul is currently with officials from the justice ministry, Afghanistan’s deputy attorney general Eshaq Aloko said.

U.N. spokesman in Kabul, Adrian Edwards, said that the U.N. was working with the Afghan government to help Abdul and he expected asylum would “be provided by one of the countries interested in a peaceful solution to this case.”

AFGHANISTAN: Abdul Rahman to be sent abroad?

Abdul Rahman, who faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity, is to be sent to Alaiabad hospital in Kabul for ‚Äúpsychiatric evaluation‚Äù where he could be examined by American doctors. The news comes after weekend reports that the case had been dropped by the Afghan judge due to questions over Mr Rahman’s mental state.

“Until he is completely healthy we should send him to hospital for treatment and it is possible that the treatment could be done inside or outside Afghanistan,” Mr Sarinwal Zamari (a prosecution lawyer) said.

AFGHANISTAN: Abdul Rahman faces death penalty

Abdul Rahman (pictured left) was put on trial in Kabul last week for the “crime” of converting from Islam to Christianity and faces the death penalty for refusing to return to the Muslim faith.

According to the Ariana TV , Abdul was asked in court, “Do you confess that you have apostacised from Islam?” The defendant answered, “No, I am not an apostate. I believe in God.”

He was then questioned, “Do you believe in the Quran?” Abdul responded, “I believe in the New Testament, and I love Jesus Christ.”