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Prayer vigil for South Korean Christian Hostages

By Patrick Reilly

7/23/07 Afghanistan (ANS) — A 24-hour prayer vigil in the Saem-Mul Protestant Community Church near Seoul is continuing for their 23 members, held captive by the Taliban following threats that the hostage takers will execute them.

Taliban leaders have threatened to execute the 18 South Korean Christians if Afghan forces make any attempt to rescue them.

The group of young Christians were to have spent a week voluntarily working in hospitals and orphanages. They were ambushed last Thursday as they travelled along the notorious Kandahar-Kabul highway in the Ghazni province.

Before leaving for Afghanistan the group posed for a photograph on July 13th.

Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, gave the warning in a telephone interview as Afghan soldiers surrounded a compound in the Qara Bagh district, where the team of aid workers are being held. “If there’s any military action against us, we’ll kill the hostages,” he warned.

The militants are demanding the return of 23 Taliban militants held in Afghani prisons and the withdrawal of Southern Korea ’s two hundred military personnel working with the collation forces. Thousands have taken to the streets in Seoul and around the world and are holding candle lit prayer vigils.

Speaking at the vigil held at the aid workers home church, Seo Jeong-Bae broke down in tears as he spoke to the press of his two children who are among the captives.

Kyeong-Suk and Myeong-Hwa were doing voluntary medical work. “How would I carry on with my life if anything bad happened to my kids?”

The Taliban have extended the deadline for their demands to be met, by 24 hours until sunset today– July 23rd.