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Taliban threatens to attack embassy if S. Korea breaks pledge

RIA Novosti

03/09/2007 16:25 TOKYO, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Taliban warned it would attack South Korea's embassy in Kabul if Seoul is found to have broken its promise to remove all its citizens from Afghanistan, Yonhap news agency reported Monday.

The Islamist group released the remaining 19 South Korean Christian volunteers held hostage in central Afghanistan last week, following a deal reached at face-to-face talks, under which South Korea agreed to withdraw its citizens and ban Christian missionary work in the Muslim country. Of the original 23 Koreans held since July 19, two men were executed by the Taliban in late July, and two women were released in mid-August.

The South Korean agency quoted Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a purported spokesman for the Taliban, as saying: "If South Korea has broken its promise, then we will attack the South Korean Embassy in Kabul and education facilities supported by Seoul."

Ahmadi said he had received reports that several South Koreans remained in the country. At the time of the deal brokered last Tuesday, South Korea had around 200 medics and engineers in Afghanistan.

The Korean volunteers were abducted when the Taliban hijacked their bus en route from Kabul to Kandahar on a humanitarian mission. The church they belong to denied Taliban accusations that the volunteers were in the country to carry out missionary activities, and said they were engaged in aid work in hospitals.

All South Korean nationals have been banned by Seoul from traveling to the war-torn country. The church which sent the volunteers has come under harsh criticism from the Korean public for putting the group at risk, and the father of one of the murdered hostages has threatened legal action against the church.

On returning to Incheon airport near Seoul on Sunday, the group of volunteers read out a statement apologizing to their country for "causing trouble."

After the release, the Taliban announced that it would carry out more abductions in the future. The group is still holding a German engineer and four Afghan colleagues who were seized a day before the Koreans.

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