Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Taliban Kill Hostage, Set 'Final' Deadline

GHAZNI, Afghanistan -- Taliban kidnappers killed one of their 23 South Korean hostages and will kill the rest if their demands for the release of prisoners are not met by a final deadline late Wednesday, a Taliban spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a group of the abductees was freed and taken to a U.S. military base, officials said.

Purported Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed that one of the hostages was shot and killed around 4 p.m. A police official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation said militants told him the hostage was sick and could not walk and was therefore shot.

Some of the 23 Korean hostages, meanwhile, had been freed and were taken to a U.S. base in Ghazni, said two Western officials who asked not to be identified.

The officials did not know how many had been freed. The South Korean news agency Yonhap said eight Koreans had been freed, citing unidentified Korean officials.

An Afghan official involved in the negotiations earlier said a large sum of money would be paid to free eight of the hostages. The official spoke on condition he not be identified, citing the sensitivity of the matter, and no other officials would confirm the account.

Foreign governments are suspected to have paid for the release of hostages in Afghanistan in the past but have either kept it quiet or denied it.

Ahmadi said the body of the Korean who was killed was left in the Musheky area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province. The South Korean hostages, including 18 women, were kidnapped June 19 while riding a bus through Ghazni province on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, Afghanistan's main thoroughfare.

In a separate kidnapping case, a German journalist and two Afghans colleagues were kidnapped by Taliban militants in a dangerous and remote area in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday but were released hours later, Kunar Governor Dedar Shalezai said.

"We are very thankful to the residents of Saangar, they promised the Kunar authorities they will never let any enemies there and they kept their promise," Dedar said.

Germany's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday afternoon that it could not confirm that a kidnapped German journalist and his Afghan translator had been freed.

Martin Jaeger, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said, "I cannot confirm that the Stern magazine reporter Christoph Reuter, who has been missing since last night, is free." He said the information from Afghanistan was unclear.

The spate of recent kidnappings -- 26 foreigners have been abducted in the last week -- prompted the Afghan government to forbid foreigners living in Kabul from leaving the city without police permission.

Police said officials stationed at checkpoints at the city's main gates would stop foreigners from leaving Kabul unless they informed officials 24 hours in advance of their travel plans, Kabul's provincial police chief said.

The directive, issued Wednesday, is related to the recent kidnappings, he said.

Reuters, AP