Taliban agrees to release hostages, missions work at risk

By August 29, 2007

Afghanistan (MNN) — Taliban insurgents and South Korean negotiators have come to an agreement that allows for the release of the remaining 19 South Korean Christians. The insurgent group seized 23 Korean volunteers on July 19 from a bus in Ghazni province. The Taliban later released two women hostages as a gesture of goodwill during the first round of talks. Two others were killed.

However, the agreement could have an impact on missions work in Afghanistan, says the President of Open Doors USA Carl Moeller. "The most troubling aspect of this announcement for us is that there is an apparent commitment by the South Korean government to restrict missionary activity on the part of Christians from South Korea."

South Korea's presidential Blue House issued a statement saying their agreement was on condition that it withdraw its troops from Afghanistan within the year and stop its nationals doing missionary work there.

Taliban representative, Qari Mohammad Bashir, confirmed a deal had been struck. But the Taliban demands did not include their main previous condition — the release of a group of militants held prisoner by the Afghan government.

Moeller is concerned about this agreement. "Governments may want to use this in future cases as an opportunity to appease the Taliban or other extremist groups, but I can say also clearly that there are always going to be Christians who go where faith costs the most, no matter what the government's restrictions might be."

Open Doors support Christians in countries where it's illegal to practice their faith, and owning a Bible is equally unlawful. However, Open Doors provides them with God's Word, but they need your help. "$4 will deliver a Bible anywhere in the world to a persecuted Christian. The places we go and things that we do to get that Bible into the hands of a believer are somewhat extreme in some of these places."

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