08/17/2007, 00.00
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Two South Koreans released by the Taliban are home

Freed August 13th after a month in captivity, they arrived today in South Korea. Brief comments to the press: “thanks the Korean government and the Korean people for their concerns and sincere apologies for causing such worries”. Fresh contacts made between Seoul and the Taliban for the remaining 19 hostages.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The two South Korean women released by the Taliban August 13th following direct negotiations between Seoul and their abductors are at home.  Kim Ji-na, 32, and Kim Kyeong-ja, 37, were part of the group of 23 evangelical Christian volunteers kidnapped July 19th in Ghazni province, southern Afghanistan.  Two members of the group were killed shortly after the sequester; while 19 others, including 14 women, are still in the hands of the “Koranic students”.

Before leaving Afghanistan, the two women under-went medical examinations; the Taliban freed them “without conditions” because of their “ill-health” as a “goodwill gesture” in order to continue talks with Kabul.

On their arrival at Incheon Airport near Seoul, the women spoke briefly to journalists. “"I want to thank the Korean government and the Korean people for their concerns and sincerely apologise for causing such worries," Kim Kyung-ja said, adding: “I hope for safe release for the rest of our team members as well”.

 Meanwhile yesterday fresh contacts were made between the South Korean delegation and the Taliban, who repeated their demands for the release of militants from Afghan prisons in exchange for the freedom of the remaining 19 hostages.  The request has already been refused by the Kabul government and is also strongly opposed by Washington.

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