Taliban free two South Korean hostages among 23 kidnapped

Two South Korean women kidnapped by Taliban militants in mid-July were handed over to officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross today.

The women said nothing to reporters alerted to the handoff location 10 kilometers (5 miles) southeast of Ghazni city by a Taliban spokesman.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry identified the freed hostages as Kim Kyung-ja and Kim Ji-na. Previous media reports said they were 37 and 32 years old, respectively.

The women - who wore scarves on their heads, khaki trousers and traditional Afghan knee-length shirts - were then driven to the U.S. base in Ghazni city, where American soldiers searched the women and then let them into the base. Both carried bags with them.

The South Korean government confirmed the release of the two hostages, and said they were under protection in a safe location. Seoul called for the other captives to also be freed.

"We urge the kidnappers to release our people and we will make efforts for the safety and release of South Koreans," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Hee-yong.