Monday, July 30, 2007

Two Korean Aid workers executed

Two South Korean aid workers have been executed.

The 2007 South Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan began on July 19, 2007, when 23 South Korean missionaries were captured and held hostage by members of the Taliban while passing through Ghazni Province of Afghanistan. Two male hostages were executed before the deal was reached between the Taliban and the South Korean government. The group, composed of sixteen women and seven men, was captured while traveling from Kandahar to Kabul by bus on a mission sponsored by the Saemmul Presbyterian Church.

The crisis began when two local men, who the driver had allowed to board, started shooting to bring the bus to a halt. Over the next month, the hostages were kept in cellars and farmhouses and regularly moved in groups of three to four.

Of the 23 hostages captured, two men, Bae Hyeong-gyu, a 42-year-old South Korean pastor of Saemmul Church, and Shim Seong-min, a 29-year-old South Korean man, were executed on July 25 and July 30, respectively. Later, with negotiations making progress, two women, Kim Gyeong-ja and Kim Ji-na, were released on August 13 and the remaining 19 hostages on August 29 and August 30.

L: Bae Hyeong-gyu. C: Korean Hostage group. R: Shim Seong-min
The release of the hostages was secured with a South Korean promise to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2007. Although the South Korean government offered no statement, a Taliban spokesman claimed that the militant group also received some US$20 million in exchange for the safety of the captured missionaries.

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