KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Afghan police discovered the bullet-riddled body of a South Korean hostage Wednesday as the Taliban reportedly released eight other abductees who were taken to a U.S. military base, officials said.
Because of a recent spike in kidnappings — including an attempt against a Danish citizen Wednesday — Kabul police announced foreigners were no longer allowed to leave the Afghan capital without police permission.
The male South Korean victim was found with 10 bullet holes in his head, chest and stomach in the Mushaki area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province, the region where 23 South Koreans were kidnapped last week, said Abdul Rahman, a police officer.
A police official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation said militants told him the hostage was sick and couldn't walk and was therefore shot.
Two Western officials said some of the 23 hostages had been released. One of the officials, who asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to share the information, said six females and two males had been taken to the main U.S. base in Ghazni.
An Afghan official involved in the negotiations earlier said a large sum of money would be paid to free eight of the hostages. The official spoke on condition he not be identified, citing the matter's sensitivity.
No other officials would confirm the account.
Foreign governments are suspected to have paid for the release of hostages in Afghanistan in the past, but have either kept it quiet or denied it outright. The Taliban originally demanded that 23 jailed militants be freed in exchange for the Koreans.
The South Korean hostages, including 18 women, were kidnapped last Thursday while riding a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, Afghanistan's main thoroughfare. Fourteen Koreans apparently remain in Taliban hands.
South Korea has banned its citizens from traveling to Afghanistan in the wake of the kidnappings. Seoul also asked Kabul not to issue visas to South Koreans and block their entry into the country.
The South Korean church that the abductees attend has said it will suspend at least some of its volunteer work in Afghanistan. It also stressed that the Koreans abducted were not involved in any Christian missionary work, saying they only provided medical and other volunteer aid to distressed people in the war-ravaged country.
Two Germans were also kidnapped last week. One was found dead and the other apparently remains captive. A Danish reporter of Afghan origin escaped a kidnap attempt in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the Danish Foreign Ministry said.
The unidentified man "was close to being caught but managed to get away and reach a local police station," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ole Neustrup said. The Dane was first reported to be German but that report was false, Khan said.
The series of recent kidnappings prompted the Afghan government to forbid foreigners living in Kabul from leaving the city without police permission.
Police said officials stationed at checkpoints at the city's main gates would stop foreigners from leaving Kabul unless they informed officials 24 hours in advance of their travel plans, said Esmatullah Dauladzai, Kabul's provincial police chief. The directive is related to the recent kidnappings, he said.
Elsewhere, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said a soldier was killed in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday by a rocket-propelled grenade. ISAF didn't release the soldier's nationality but the majority of troops in the east are American.
Britain said one of its soldiers was killed and two others injured when an explosion struck their vehicle in southern Helmand province on Wednesday.
The U.S.-led coalition said 20 suspected Taliban militants were killed Wednesday after a failed ambush on coalition and Afghan troops in Kandahar province.
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