South Korean Christian hostage crisis: Rescue attempt reported… "The operation has started"…Refuted? Update: Reuters withdraws rescue report Update: More conflicting reports Update: 1:30pm Eastern…The final deadline?

Here’s the latest video report of a reported rescue operation for the 21 remaining South Korean Christian hostages kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Stand by for more.

Update 1:30pm Eastern. Taliban announces what it’s calling its final deadline…

Taliban insurgents suggested 4:30 p.m. on August 1 as a new deadline for negotiations after they killed another Korean hostage, Shim Seong-min (29), on July 31. The Taliban said they would kill the 21 hostages one by one if the negotiations fail to meet their expectations this time.Taliban spokesman Yousuf warned on July 31 through the foreign press, including the AP and AFP, that the last deadline for the 21 left hostages would be this afternoon (Korean time: 4:30 p.m. August 1).

Update 11:00am Eastern. More conflicting reports via Christian Today (hat tip – Dan Riehl)…

Confusion arose as contrasting reports emerged from Afghanistan in the mission to free Korean Christian hostages being held by Taliban militants.The BBC has reported receiving information about fighting breaking out in the area where the team of Korean Christian hostages are being held, saying the development suggests a dangerous operation had begun to free them.The Telegraph has also reported that a joint US and Afghan army operation had allegedly been launched in Afghanistan to free 21 South Korean hostages held captive by Taliban insurgents.Local officials in the area reported to the BBC that fighting had broken out between the Afghan army and Taliban forces in Ghazni province south-west of Kabul, the country’s capital.In addition, earlier on Wednesday the Afghan military had used helicopters to drop leaflets across the area telling local residents to flee, prompting rumours a strike was imminent as another Taliban deadline passed.However, the Afghan interior ministry insisted that no such operation was underway and spokesmen for the US army and the South Korean Embassy denied any knowledge of an assault on the hostage takers.

Update 10:15am Eastern. Reuters withdraws the hostage rescue attempt story. What the…?

Please be advised that the Kabul datelined story reporting that an operation to rescue 21 Korean hostages held by the Taliban had begun is wrong. The official cited in the story did not make the comment reported. There will be no substitute story.

“The official cited in the story did not make the comment reported.” Say what?

Update 10:00am Eastern: Here are photos of the remaining S. Korean Christian hostages. They are our brothers and sisters…

Update 9:35am Eastern. There’s confusion about whether this rescue attempt is real or not. Yonhap is running this quote: “We have not sanctioned such a rescue operation. We have not been informed of such an action either,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Youn-soo said.

ABC News:

A military operation to rescue the remaining 21 Korean hostages held by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan began on Wednesday, hours after a Taliban deadline expired, a provincial official said.”The operation has started,” said Khowja Seddiqi, the district chief of Ghazni’s Qarabagh district, where the Taliban kidnapped 23 Korean Christian volunteers nearly two weeks ago.He did not give more details or say which forces were involved. Any attempt to rescue the hostages is fraught with risk, as the kidnappers have split the 18 women and three men into small groups and are holding them in different locations across the mainly flat terrain.The Taliban could not be immediately be contacted, but spokesmen for the radical Islamist movement have repeatedly said any use of force would jeopardise the lives of the hostages.Earlier the army had dropped leaflets warning civilians of an assault.

Eugene Cho has covered the crisis extensively and expresses the frustration I share about the lack of American concern over the past two weeks:

Seriously, does anyone care? Is anyone else just tired of the Michael Vick story? Why isn’t the media sharing more about the situation? Anderson Cooper, where are you? I really do not understand how this cannot be prominent NEWS here in the United States. I understand that these hostages are not “Americans.” They are Koreans and Asians and thus, considered by some as “others” here. But, can’t people understand that the Taliban took these hostages as an attack and a statement – not to Christians or to Koreans, but to all those that oppose them. This was and is a statement to the US as well, right? Isn’t that the reason why the first interview was given to CBS News, right? Where is the outrage? It pisses me off immensely that another person has been killed and it is barely mentioned. My cynical prediction: this won’t be front news until the Afghan president, Harmid Karzai, visits President Bush at Camp David on August 5 and 6 – that is, if the hostages are still alive. Does anyone care?

James Na yesterday:

It is a self-loathing pathos of a post-modern capitalist democracy where victimhood trumps victory on the moral plane — why fight like dog-faces and win when suffering from aggressions of others is a far nobler endeavor?Are we now reaching the apex of the reaction against the kind of virulent nationalism and imperalism of the 19th Century and the early 20th Century that resulted in the bloodbath of the two world wars?Can people arouse themselves from a cozy, air conditioned Starbucks to muster rage and anger against those who harm their tribe or is such “primitive” feeling passé along with rabbit hunting on one’s backyard?I have long resisted a cyclical view of history, but when I think of where Western post-modern society is headed (the prizing of clever words and legal arguments and the disappareance of mensch-ness), I cannot but help visualize how helpless the silk-clad Mandarins must have looked as illiterate nomadic warriors broke into their cities or how pathetic the Byzantine magnates must have appeared as they fled their estates from the ravages of Varangians and Arabs.Perhaps they lost their civilizations despite all the advantages of superior technology, learning, organization, and wealth, because, in the end, they simply lost their desire for vengeance.

Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea: “If you’re practiced at prayer, this would be a good time.” Joshua presaged the rescue bid yesterday in “Ransom is not a countermeasure:” “Talk of yielding to their demands will only get more people kidnapped and killed.”

My column this week spotlights the martyrs no one cares about:

The blood of innocent Christian missionaries spills on Afghan sands. The world watches and yawns. The United Nations offers nothing more than a formal expression of “concern.” Where is the global uproar over the human rights abuses unfolding before our eyes?

For two weeks, a group of South Korean Christians has been held hostage by Taliban thugs in Afghanistan. This is the largest group of foreign hostages taken in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. What was their offense? Were they smuggling arms into the country? No. Inciting violence? No. They were peaceful believers in Christ on short-term medical and humanitarian missions. Seventeen of the 23 hostages are females. Most of them are nurses who provide social services and relief.

Over the past few days, the bloodthirsty jihadists have demanded that South Korea immediately withdraw troops from the Middle East, pay ransom and trade the civilian missionaries for imprisoned Taliban fighters. The Taliban leaders have made good on threats to kill the kidnapped Christians while Afghan officials plead fecklessly that their monstrous behavior is “un-Islamic.”

Two men, 29-year-old Shim Sung-min and 42-year-old Pastor Bae Hyeong-gyu, have already been shot to death and dumped in the name of Allah. Bae was a married father with a 9-year-old daughter. According to Korean media, he was from a devout Christian family from the island province of Jeju. He helped found the Saemmul Church south of Seoul, which sent the volunteers to Afghanistan.

Across Asia, media coverage is 24/7. Strangers have held nightly prayer vigils. But the human rights crowd in America has been largely AWOL. And so has most of our mainstream media. Among some of the secular elite, no doubt, is a blame-the-victim apathy: The missionaries deserved what they got. What were they thinking bringing their message of faith to a war zone? Didn’t they know they were sitting ducks for Muslim head-choppers whose idea of evangelism is “convert or die”?

I noted the media shoulder-shrugging about jihadist targeting of Christian missionaries five years ago during the kidnapping and murder of American Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham in the Philippines. The silence is rooted in viewing committed Christians as alien others. At best, there is a collective callousness. At worst, there is outright contempt — from Ted Turner’s reference to Catholics as “Jesus freaks” to CBS producer Roxanne Russell’s casual insult of former GOP presidential candidate Gary Bauer as “the little nut from the Christian group” to the mockery of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

Curiously, those who argue that we need to “understand” Islamic terrorists demonstrate little effort to “understand” the Christian evangelical missionaries who risk their lives to spread the gospel — not by sword, but through acts of compassion, healing and education. An estimated 16,000 Korean mission workers risk their lives across the globe — from Africa to the Middle East, China and North Korea.

These are true practitioners of a religion of peace, not the hate-mongers with bombs and AK-47s strapped to their chests who slay instead of pray their way to martyrdom.

***

Ken Shepherd at Newsbusters has a good reminder of another prominent case of MSM bias against Christian missionairies.

Posted in: South Korean Christian hostages

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