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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Afghan Leaders Call Taliban Hostage-Taking 'Un-Islamic'

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that the kidnapping of 23 South Koreans by Taliban militants was shameful and that abducting women in particular was un-Islamic. Meanwhile, a purported Taliban spokesman set another deadline for the hostages' lives.

In his first comments on the crisis since the South Koreans were taken hostage on July 19, Karzai criticized the kidnapping of "foreign guests" and especially women, and he assured a South Korean presidential envoy that the government would "spare no effort" to secure the hostages' release.

"This will have a shameful effect on the dignity of the Afghan people," Karzai said, according to a statement from the presidential palace after talks with the South Korean delegation.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said the militant group had given a list of 23 insurgent prisoners it wants released in exchange for the hostages and was waiting for the government to act. He said the militants might kill more hostages if the prisoners were not released by noon Monday.

"We might kill one ... or we might kill all of the hostages," Ahmadi said. "It might be women, it might be men."

Several previous Taliban deadlines have passed without consequence, though the militants killed one male hostage last week. Afghan officials, meanwhile, reported no progress in talks with tribal elders to secure the release of the hostages.

Afghanistan's national council of clerics said Sunday that the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, taught that no one has the right to kill women, children or elders.