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(LEAD) Korea trying to confirm reports of hostage execution

All Headlines 02:39 July 31, 2007

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead paras with South Korean official's reaction, ADDS details)

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean officials said they were trying to confirm reports that the Taliban has executed another male hostage.

The South Korean embassy in Afghanistan declined to comment.

Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the militant group, told AFP and Reuters that a man named "Sung Sin" was killed at 8:30 p.m. (local time) with AK-47 gunshots because the Afghan government did not heed the deadline set for exchanging the hostages with Taliban prisoners.

He said the body was abandoned at Qarabagh in the Ghazni province.

The given name of the victim is most similar to Shim Sung-min, 29, who is among the kidnapped.

If confirmed true, it will be the second killing of the hostages. Bae Hyung-kyu, a pastor, was killed last Wednesday, his bullet-riddled corpse later recovered.

The reported killing follows yet another deadline extension until Wednesday that the Taliban agreed to in negotiating the terms of hostages' release. The rebel group, after initially declaring 4 p.m. Monday deadline, had said it was giving another two days for talks.

The Taliban on July 19 kidnapped 23 South Korean civilians who went to the war-torn nation for volunteer services. They went as a church group.


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