Two women among the 23 South Koreans kidnapped by the Taliban in mid-July were freed Monday on a rural Afghan roadside and then driven to a U.S. base, the first significant breakthrough in a hostage drama now more than three weeks old.
The two women, who broke into tears after seeing the international Red Cross officials there to take custody of them, got out of a dark gray Toyota Corolla driven by an Afghan elder and into one of two waiting Red Cross SUVs. The women said nothing to reporters alerted to the handoff location five miles southeast of Ghazni city by a Taliban spokesman.
The Taliban decided to release these two "for the sake of good relations between the Korean people and the Taliban," said Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the insurgent group.
"We are expecting the Korean people and government to force the Kabul administration and the U.S. to take a step toward releasing Taliban prisoners," Ahmadi said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry identified the freed hostages as Kim Kyung-ja and Kim Ji-na. Previous media reports said they were 37 and 32 years old, respectively.
Two male captives were executed by gunfire in late July. Fourteen women and five men are still being held.
We can't celebrate too much -- there are still nineteen innocent people being held in God knows what kind of conditions, with two innocent men killed.
And the Taliban calls this a "gesture of good will", undoubtedly pleased with themselves for their ability to be what they consider merciful.
It's not over yet though, and with any luck the rest of these hostages will be released as well. However, knowing the monsters that they're up against, it's impossible to tell what will happen.
Make sure to keep them in your prayers.
Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin