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Korean hostages in good health, says Afghan doctor

Nineteen South Koreans held hostage for six weeks in Afghanistan are kept on the move by their Taliban captors but are in good health, a doctor in touch with a senior Taliban commander said Friday.

Nineteen South Koreans held hostage for six weeks in Afghanistan are kept on the move by their Taliban captors but are in good health, a doctor in touch with a senior Taliban commander said Friday.

Dr. Mohammad Hashim Wahaaj said the hostages 'have no medical problems.' ((Saurabh Das/Associated Press))

Earlier this month, Dr. Mohammad Hashim Wahaaj delivered medicine to the Taliban to give to the South Koreans. He said he was not allowed to examine the hostages, but discussed any medical concerns over the phone with their captors.

Wahaaj told a media conference he remained in regular telephone contact with Mullah Mansor, the Taliban commander in the area where the South Korean aid workers were kidnapped on July 19.

He said the South Koreans "were fine and have no medical problems," but were split into several groups and were moved around every "six to eight hours" to keep one step ahead of Afghan security forces.

The Taliban originally seized 23 South Koreans, but have since killed two of the hostages and released two others. They are demanding the withdrawal of South Korean troops from the country and the release of prisoners in exchange for freeing the hostages.

Wahaaj, who runs a health clinic in the Afghan capital Kabul, made an appeal to the Taliban to allow him to treat or deliver medicine to a German engineer and four Afghans kidnapped more than a month ago.

The German appeared in a video broadcast on Afghan television Thursday apparently in pain, lying on the ground, coughing and holding his chest.

"We want this person to be treated," Wahaaj said. "If he is healthy, you [the Taliban] can still talk. If he dies, you will lose everything."

Insurgents in Afghanistan are increasingly using kidnappings of government officials or foreign aid workers as part of their campaign to overthrow the western-backed government that took power after the defeat of the Taliban in 2001.