The Taleban have freed two members of a
group of South Korean hostages abducted in Afghanistan.
The women were said to be ill but were able to walk to
The pair, both women, were brought to a meeting point pre-arranged
with the Taleban and handed to the International Committee of the Red
They were said to have been released partly because they were in poor
health and partly as a goodwill gesture after talks with South Korean
Two of the 23 South Koreans captured three weeks ago have been
The location of Monday's release was close where the bodies of the
two male hostages were found last month, says the BBC's Charles Haviland
South Korea's foreign ministry confirmed that the two women had been
The two women, who were wearing headscarves and were in tears, got
into the ICRC car and were driven to the nearby town of Ghazni, our
There, they were expected to meet South Korean delegates who have
been negotiating with two Taleban officials to secure the hostages'
An ICRC official told the BBC the Taleban had earlier contacted the
organisation to request that it play a role in the handover. He said the
ICRC would willingly repeat such a role if requested.
The women, who were photographed walking to the car, were said to be
in "fair" health, our correspondent says.
The mother of one of the released hostages, Sun Yun-ja, said it was
difficult to be happy about the releases.
"Two came back as bodies, two will return as being sick - I am really
sorry for the family members of the remaining 19 hostages."
"I have a very heavy heart, rather than have a happy heart."
There had been confusion over the releases, with a Taleban spokesman
telling reporters on Saturday that the two had already been freed,
before saying the timing of the release had yet to be decided.
A new timing of 1130 GMT Monday, announced by the same spokesman,
Yusuf Ahmadi, then passed with no news of any hostage releases.
The Taleban said the two women were released because they were sick
and as a goodwill gesture.
They say they want Taleban imprisoned by the Afghan government to be
set free if the other Koreans, most of whom are women, are to be
The South Koreans, all Christian aid workers, were seized on 19 July.
The original group of 23 - most of them women - was captured on the
main road from Kabul to Kandahar.
It is thought the remaining South Korean hostages are being held in a
number of small groups in a village about 10km (six miles) from Ghazni.