KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, (AP) – A purported Taliban spokesman said the hardline militia on Saturday shot and killed two German hostages because Germany’s government didn’t announce that its troops would leave Afghanistan.
Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Germans were shot to death. They had been kidnapped on Wednesday, along with five Afghan colleagues, in the southern province of Wardak while working on a dam project.
“The German and Afghan governments didn’t meet our conditions, they didn’t pull out their troops,” Ahmadi told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Ahmadi offered no proof for the claim of the killings; he said the Taliban would give further information about the two bodies later.
A spokesman for the German government and the nation’s Foreign Ministry in Berlin could not immediately confirm the reports.
Militants on Thursday kidnapped at least 18 South Korean Christians riding on a bus in Ghazni, one province south of Wardak. Ahmadi said previously the Koreans would also be killed Saturday if South Korea didn’t withdraw the 200 troops it has here, but he gave no information about their condition.
Ahmadi warned the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO forces not to try to rescue the hostages, or they would be killed. The provincial police chief in Ghazni province said his forces were working “carefully” to not trigger any retaliatory killings.
“The enemy has threatened that there shouldn’t be any kind of search operation for the Korean citizens,” said Ali Shah Ahmadzai. “We have surrounded the area but are working very carefully. We don’t want them to be killed.”
Germany has 3,000 soldiers in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force who are stationed in the mostly peaceful northern part of Afghanistan. South Korea has 200 soldiers in the U.S.-led coalition who largely work on humanitarian projects such as medical assistance and reconstruction work.
The troops run a hospital for Afghan civilians at the U.S. base at Bagram, and the facility has treated over 240,000 patients. The kidnapped civilians are not affiliated with the military.
“We are determined now to make more effort to give hope to the people,” South Korean Lt. Col. Kim Seoung Ki, 924th Korean hospital commander, said in a recent interview. “We will continue making contributions to bring peace in this land.”
In South Korea, President Roh Moo-hyun vowed Saturday to make sincere efforts to win the release of the hostages, but did not detail what those efforts would be. He said 23 South Koreans had been abducted, but did not give an explanation for the discrepancy with the purported Taliban spokesman’s count of 18.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Song Min-soon reiterated Seoul’s plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year as scheduled, hoping to appease the militants.
“The government is in preparations to implement its plan” to pull its troops out of the war-ravaged country by the end of this year, he said.
The South Korean government informed parliament late last year that it would terminate its troop mission in Afghanistan and bring them home before the end of this year.
In the largest-scale abduction of foreigners since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the South Koreans were kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus in Ghazni province’s Qarabagh district on Thursday, as they traveled on the main highway from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.