Taleban militants in Afghanistan say they have extended a deadline for their demands to be met for the release of 23 South Korean hostages.
A purported Taleban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, told news agencies that the militants are giving government negotiators until Monday evening (seven p.m. local time - 1430 UTC) to respond to a demand that 23 Taleban rebels be released from Afghan prisons.
Earlier today, the Taleban threatened to kill its South Korean hostages if Afghan or foreign troops attempt to free them by force.
The Afghan Defense Ministry said Afghan and U.S.-led coalition troops had surrounded several areas in Ghazni province where the hostages are believed to be held.
A South Korean delegation has arrived in Kabul to assist with negotiations aimed at freeing the hostages.
Meanwhile, authorities are trying to confirm the fate of two Germans taken hostage by Taleban militants last week.
The Taleban claims to have killed both Germans, but Afghan and German authorities say they believe one hostage died of a heart attack and the other is still alive. Afghan officials said today that they have recovered the body of one German but the cause of death was not immediately known.
Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the German hostage whose heart gave out apparently was a victim of stress. The minister says Germany is doing everything possible to save the second captive's life. The two men were kidnapped Thursday in central Afghanistan. The Taleban says the foreigners' five Afghan colleagues were killed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the Taleban demands, and pledged that three-thousand German troops will remain in Afghanistan.