Fri, Aug 24, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Afghan station airs video of ailing German hostage

AGENCIES , KABUL

A German engineer kidnapped by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan more than a month ago was shown pleading for help yesterday in a videotape broadcast on a local television station.

The man, who identified himself as Rudolf Blechschmidt, was shown lying on a black rug, clutching his chest and coughing. His captors were not featured in the footage.

"I am a prisoner of the Taliban," he said. "We live in the mountains, very high in a very bad condition, please help us," he said.

"The Taliban try to negotiate with the Afghan government, but the government [does] not talk with the Taliban and the Taliban tried to get in connection with the embassy to release us, but if the time is over they want [to] kill us," said Blechschmidt, speaking in English and lying on a ground sheet clutching his chest and coughing.

The video was broadcast on privately-owned Tolo TV.

The station did not say how it obtained the footage, and there was no indication of when it was shot.

Blechschmidt is one of two Germans and five Afghans the Taliban abducted in Wardak Province, southwest of Kabul, on July 18, the day before the insurgents seized 23 South Koreans from a bus in neighboring Ghazni Province.

The other German suffered a heart attack soon after they were abducted and was then shot dead by his captors, who are demanding Berlin withdraw it's 3,300 troops from Afghanistan.

The German government has flatly refused to do so, but is under pressure from opposition parties and public opinion and faces a key vote in parliament next month on whether to renew the mandate for its force in Afghanistan.

"I ask my friends, my family and my two sons to increase the pressure on the German government agencies to get us free," added the 62-year-old hostage, speaking in German. "My medicine for my heart problem will have run out in three days' time. And the time, the time is running."

He said he was being held with five Afghans captured with him. One of the Afghan captives pleaded in the video for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to try to secure their release.

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