By BosNewsLife News Center with BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar and BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- Afghan Police on Wednesday, July 25, found the bullet riddled body of one of 23 South Korean Christians held hostage by the Taliban, shortly after the militant movement said it would begin killing them.
The male victim, identified as youth Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu, 42, had reportedly 10 bullet holes in his head, chest and stomach, and was discovered in the Mushaki area of Qarabagh district in Ghazni province, police officer Abdul Rahman said in published remarks.
The self-described Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said earlier Wednesday, July 25, that "the hostages were in grave danger". He said the Taliban was not satisfied with the Afghan and South Korean governments' response to demands that several Taliban prisoners be released and that South Korean forces leave the county.
A few hundred South Korean soldiers and civilian personnel provide non-combat support to international security efforts in Afghanistan.
The Taliban spokesman warned that "a few" of the South Korean hostages may be executed, several news reports said. In South Korea, the group's church and relatives have hold prayer vigils, anxiously watching news reports.
All of them, including the murdered youth pastor, are members of the evangelical Saemmul Community Church in Bundang, just south of Seoul.
The church has described their activities as humanitarian, but critics have condemned the travelers as missionaries, who put themselves "unnecessarily at risk" in one of the world's hotbeds of Islamic militancy and extremism.
Yet, South Korean Christians travelling to the region have defended these kinds of trips, saying all people, including Muslims in Afghanistan, have the right to learn about the love of Jesus Christ who they believe rose up from death so everyone who believes in Him "shall not perish but have everlasting life."
The 23 hostages allegedly made their trip illegally. Since their capture, Seoul has announced harsher penalties for travel to banned areas. South Korea is second only to the United States in the number of Christian missionaries it sends abroad, with an estimated 12,000 engaged in projects in about 160 countries, the Voice Of America network reported.
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