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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Taleban free all Korean hostages
A female South Korean hostage is supported by a Red Cross worker
The release follows a deal between South Korea and the Taleban
The last seven South Korean hostages held by the Taleban in Afghanistan have been handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

They were released in two groups, within the space of a few hours, late on Thursday.

On Wednesday, 12 of their fellow Christian charity workers were released after a six-week ordeal.

The Taleban seized the group of 23 last month as they travelled by bus on the main highway from Kandahar to Kabul.

Two male hostages were subsequently killed.

The last three captives, two women and a man, were handed over to ICRC officials in Ghazni province late on Thursday.

HOSTAGE TIMELINE
19 July: 23 South Korean Christian volunteer aid workers seized on a bus between Kabul and Kandahar
26 July: One male hostage shot dead - identified as Bae Hyung-kyu, 42, a church pastor and leader of the group
31 July: Another male hostage, Shim Sung-min, a 29-year-old former IT worker, found dead
10 August: South Korean officials and Taleban start talks
14 August: Two female hostages handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross as a goodwill gesture - leaving 19
29 August: 12 more hostages released - leaving seven
30 August: All remaining hostages released

Earlier in the day two women and two men were handed over near the village of Janda.

The BBC's correspondent Alastair Leithead says all seven appear to be in good health.

The releases follow a series of direct talks between the South Korean government and the Taleban.

Two women were freed following the first round of talks a fortnight ago.

The release of 12 more hostages on Wednesday - 10 women and two men - came a day after Seoul said it had reached a deal with the Taleban.

South Korea agreed to withdraw its 200 troops from Afghanistan as scheduled by the end of the year. It also said it would end all missionary work in the country and stop its citizens from travelling there.

There was no mention of money being paid, but it is thought that a ransom may have been part of the deal, says the BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul.

The Taleban appear to have dropped their earlier demand that Taleban members be released from Afghan prisons in exchange for the hostages' freedom.

The hostages are thought to have been held in several different locations in Ghazni province.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage of the last hostages being released



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