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Taliban deadline on South Korean hostages appears more serious'

A second execution Tuesday has heightened international debate about how to deal with kidnappers.

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Monday's killing of a second Korean hostage held by Taliban militants in Afghanistan has sparked international debate about how to negotiate with hostage takers. In exchange for the freedom of the 21 surviving Korean Christian aid workers, their captors have demanded the release by Wednesday afternoon (Korean time) of several Taliban prisoners held in an Afghan jail. As South Korean and Afghan officials work together to broker a deal with the militants, the international community, especially Germany, is debating whether caving to their demand might encourage future abductions.

Authorities discovered Shim Sung-min's body in the central Afghanistan province of Ghazni on Tuesday. According to Marajudin Pathan, the governor of Ghazni province, the Taliban breached an agreement reached with the government to refrain from further executions until Wednesday noon, reports The Times, a London-based newspaper. The militants, for their part, accuse the Afghan government of ignoring previous deadlines.

"We set several deadlines and the Afghan Government did not pay attention to our deadlines," Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesman, said. "Finally, tonight at 8.30 [local time] we killed one of the Koreans named Sung Sin with AK47 gunshots."

Al Jazeera received an unauthenticated hostage video from the militants showing some of the remaining 21 hostages, all women and wearing headscarves. The women appeared to be in good health. James Bays, an Al Jazeera correspondent in Afghanistan, said that although there have been numerous deadline extensions since the group was first kidnapped on July 17, the latest deadline appears to be "serious this time." He also added that Afghan security forces had increased their presence on the road where the Koreans were kidnapped.


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