Update 7/31 3:00pm Eastern. Yet another deadline has been set:
The Taliban set the government a new deadline of noon tomorrow (5.30pm Wednesday AEST) to meet its demands in order to save 21 South Koreans, a day after a second hostage was killed.
The hardline Islamic militia wants the government to free at least eight Taliban prisoners in Afghan jails, a demand negotiators have rejected.
“If our demands are not met by then, we will start killing the rest of the South Koreans,” Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf said.
The bloodied corpse of the second hostage to be killed since 23 were kidnapped nearly two weeks ago was found overnight in the southern province of Ghazni, about 140km south of Kabul.
The body was dumped in a field just off a main road, with his hands tied and bullet wounds to the head.
South Korea’s foreign ministry identified the victim as Shim Sung-Min, 29, as the country reacted with outrage.
At least there’s outrage somewhere. The U.N. is useless as usual. All eyes are on, who else, the U.S.:
The Afghan government, which was criticized for releasing five Taliban prisoners in exchange for the freedom of an Italian journalist earlier this year, has rejected the hostages-for-prisoners deal for the South Koreans.
Analysts in Seoul said the United States holds the key to resolving the hostage crisis as it has strong influence on the Kabul government led by President Hamid Karzai which replaced the Taliban regime in late 2001 on the back of U.S.-led allies.
“The Afghan government is under U.S. influence, so South Korea is urged to persuade the United States to exert its influence on Kabul,” said Chang Byong-ok, a Middle East expert at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.
Families of the hostages, shocked by the killing of the second captive, held a news conference, calling on the United States to play a role in securing the freedom of the remaining hostages.
Civic activists and politicians gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to urge Washington to assume a more active role in the hostage crisis, saying South Korea has dispatched troops to Afghanistan to help U.S. campaigns in the war-torn country.
Police in central Afghanistan at daybreak Tuesday discovered the body of a second South Korean hostage slain by the Taliban, officials said…
…The victim’s body was found in the village of Arizo Kalley in Andar District, some 6 miles west of Ghazni city, said Abdul Rahim Deciwal, the chief administrator in the area.
A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said senior Taliban leaders decided to kill the male captive because the government had not met Taliban demands to trade prisoners for the Christian volunteers, who were in their 12th day of captivity Monday.
“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.”
Al-Jazeera showed shaky footage of what it said were several South Korean hostages. It did not say how it obtained the video, whose authenticity 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.
Does anybody care yet?