Source AP ©

Police discover body of 2nd slain South Korean hostage in Afghanistan

Police discovered the body of a second South Korean hostage Tuesday slain by the Taliban in central Afghanistan, officials said.

The man's body, wearing Western clothing and glasses, was found on the side of the road at daybreak in the village of Arizo Kalley in Andar District, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of Ghazni city, said Abdul Rahim Deciwal, the chief administrator in the area.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry identified the victim as 29-year Shim Sung-min, a former information technology worker who volunteered with a South Korean church group on an aid mission to Afghanistan.

A purported Taliban spokesman claimed the hard-line militia killed the South Korean hostage Monday evening because the Afghan government failed to release imprisoned insurgents.

The victim, who appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, was wearing white trousers, a blue striped shirt and flip-flops, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. He appeared to have a gunshot wound to the right temple.

Police lifted the body from the side of the road, and put it on a blanket and into the back of a waiting police truck. The victim's face was covered in blood, as was the ground beneath him. Two policemen covered the bloody patches on the roadside with dirt.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the captive because the government had not met Taliban demands to trade prisoners for the Christian volunteers, who were in their 13th day of captivity Tuesday.

"The Kabul and Korean governments are lying and cheating. They did not meet their promise of releasing Taliban prisoners," Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said by phone from an undisclosed location. "The Taliban warns the government if the Afghan government won't release Taliban prisoners, then at any time the Taliban could kill another Korean hostage."

The Al-Jazeera television network, meanwhile, showed shaky footage of what it said were several South Korean hostages. It did not say how it obtained the video. The authenticity of the video could not immediately be verified.

Some seven female hostages, heads veiled in accordance with the Islamic law enforced by the Taliban, were seen crouching in the dark, eyes closed or staring at the ground, expressionless.

The hostages did not speak as they were filmed by the hand-held camera.

The Taliban kidnapped 23 South Koreans riding on a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway on July 19, the largest group of foreign hostages taken in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The Taliban has set several deadlines for the South Koreans' lives. Last Wednesday the insurgents killed their first hostage, a male leader of the group.

The body of pastor Bae Hyung-kyu arrived back in South Korea on Monday, where the families of the remaining hostages pleaded for their loved ones' release.

It's not clear if the Afghan government would consider releasing any militant prisoners, a key Taliban demand.

In March, President Hamid Karzai approved a deal that saw five captive Taliban fighters freed for the release of Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo. Karzai, who was criticized by the United States and European capitals over the exchange, called the trade a one-time deal.

On Sunday, Karzai and other Afghan officials tried to shame the Taliban into releasing the female captives by appealing to a tradition of cultural hospitality and chivalry. They called the kidnapping of women "unIslamic."

On Monday, South Korean officials changed their estimate of the number of women captives to 16, down from earlier reports of 18.

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