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Taliban Claims it Received $4 Million for South Korean Missionaries

The South Korean government had been criticized by other nations for dealing with the Taliban.

Taliban officials recently told media outlets that the South Korean government paid at least $4 million for the release of 21 hostages.

Newsweekreports that an anonymous senior commander said the South Korean government delivered the cash to the insurgents in the Pakistani frontier city of Quetta.

Twenty-three church volunteers were abducted in July while traveling in Afghanistan on a medical-aid trip. The missionaries were released after six weeks and two men were killed.

The commander told Newsweek that the Taliban knew that U.S. and Afghan intelligence were closely watching the hostage negotiations that were taking place between South Korean and Taliban officials so they agreed on a secret payoff.

South Korea has been criticized for negotiating with the Taliban. After the hostages were released, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press that he plans to abduct more foreigners, reinforcing fears that South Korea's decision would create more hostage situations.

A South Korean presidential secretary told Newsweek, "We aren't aware of any new developments in the case. Our government position is we didn't pay any ransom for the hostages."

Considering the Taliban's militant reputation and that they spoke on the condition of anonymity, it is difficult to trust anything the officials say.

Kidnapping foreign citizens is not new. In 2003, Christianity Todaycovered Philippines missionary Gracia Burnham, who believed her husband would be alive if someone had paid a proper ransom. CT has also covered the United State's Kidnapping Policy.

Previous coverage of the hostage situation includes:

In the Aftermath of a Kidnapping | The South Korean missionary movement seeks to mature without losing its zeal.

Costly Commitment | In wake of abductions, Korean Christians take heavy criticism.

South Korean Politicians Blame U.S. for Taliban Hostages | Korean officials seek direct negotiations with kidnappers.

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