Taliban militants in Afghanistan freed the remaining seven South Korean hostages today, CNN reports, ending an episode that began July 19 with the abduction of 23 Christian aid workers. After two were executed, the remaining hostages were gradually released as the South Korean government negotiated with the captors, promising to halt missionary work in Afghanistan and proceed with troop withdrawal.
The Taliban had sought to trade the hostages for prisoners held by the Afghan government, but that demand was not met. A South Korean spokesman said his government did not pay the Taliban for the release of the hostages, but Reuters quoted Afghan sources saying money changed hands. The final hostages were handed over to the Red Cross in two small groups.