SKorean Hostage Says Taliban Captors Move Them Frequently

Protesters shout slogans during an anti-war rally demanding for the withdrawal of RoK troops from Afghanistan and the safe return of its hostages in the country, in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul July 28, 2007.

One of the 22 Republic of Korea (South Korean) hostages threatened with death by Afghanistan's Taliban says they have been split into small groups which are moved frequently.

Lee Ji-Young, in a phone interview with Seoul's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper published Monday, also apologised for causing trouble.

"First of all, we feel sorry to have caused the trouble," the 34-year-old woman said Sunday. She consulted one of her captors while giving the interview, the paper said.

The Taliban have said the hostages had been divided into small groups and were being held in three different provinces, in an attempt to thwart any rescue mission.

Lee said she was with a group of three others who are "OK at the moment" but they did not know how the other captives are faring.

"We move sometimes once a day and sometimes every two or three days," Lee said, adding that at the time they were being held in a house.

She said her captors had made no particular threat and told her parents: "Don't worry too much about me."

Taliban militants threatened Sunday to start killing the South Koreans unless the Afghan government accepts by noon Monday local time (0730 GMT) their demand for the release of jailed rebels.

But a government negotiator repeated that there would be no prisoner exchange, and said the Islamic extremists must free the 16 women in the group of aid workers before other demands would be considered.

Four other deadlines set by the spokesman have lapsed without incident.

The Taliban, however, shot dead the group leader, 42-year-old Presbyterian pastor Bae Hyung-Kyu, last Wednesday. They said he was killed because talks on the crisis had stalled.

Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon held talks Saturday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to seek her help in freeing the captives, according to media reports which the ministry would not confirm.

Bae's body is to be brought home as soon as a plane is available but his family says it will delay the funeral until all the captives return home.

Source: AFP

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