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Merkel: Germany Will Not Give in to Blackmail of Kidnappers
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday that Germany will not give in to the demands of kidnappers and will not be blackmailed into withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan.

Merkel said in an interview with Germany's ARD television that she had no new information about the fate of a German engineer being held hostage in Afghanistan or the circumstances surrounding the death of another German hostage.

A crisis team at the German foreign ministry was working around the clock to secure the release of the second hostage, she said.

Merkel made the remarks after a purported Taliban spokesman said on Saturday that Taliban fighters had executed two German hostages because the German government had failed to meet their demands for the departure of all German soldiers from Afghanistan.

The Taliban spokesman's authority was doubted by Berlin with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier saying on Saturday that German information suggested that one of the two German hostages had apparently died of "stress and strain" while the other is still alive.

Latest reports coming from Afghanistan said that Afghan police had found the body of one of the German hostages in Wardak province and a gunshot wound was found on his back.

A spokesman for the governor of Wardak province said that the body was transported to Kabul Sunday evening for further investigations.

The two German nationals and five of their Afghan colleagues, who are civil engineers working on a dam project in Afghanistan, were reportedly abducted Wednesday in Wardak province, about 100 km southwest of Kabul.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2007)

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