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DATE=12/28/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA HIJACK TUES. (L-UPDATE) NUMBER=2-257565 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Hijackers holding 160-hostages onboard an Indian Airlines plane in Kandahar, Afghanistan have dramatically increased their demands. India's Foreign Minister says the hijackers are asking for the release of 35 Kashmiri separatist militants and a ransom of 200-million dollars. New Delhi Correspondent Jim Teeple reports Indian negotiators continue talks with the hijackers. TEXT: The new demands came after a day of seemingly futile talks between the hijackers, Indian negotiators, and Afghanistan's Taleban authorities. Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh says the hijackers want a ransom of 200-million-dollars before they will release the hostages. He also says they are asking for the body of a leader of their militant group who was killed while trying to escape from an Indian jail in 1994. In late-night remarks Mr. Singh said - let the international community and the nation understand the demands. He says India will send a response to the hijackers through negotiators in Kandahar. At a news conference earlier in the day, India's Foreign Minister said he welcomed a pledge by Taleban authorities to storm the plane if any of the hostages are harmed. // SINGH ACT // So far as the Taleban warning to the hijackers against causing any injuries to any of the hostages -- well we are appreciative of the stand taken by the Taleban. I am sure you will appreciate that it will be difficult for me to discuss either tactics or strategy of ensuring the safety and welfare of the hostages and the earliest termination of the hijacking. // END ACT // // BEGIN OPT // India's Foreign Minister will say little about who the hijackers are, but he says they belong to a Kashmiri militant separatist group Harkut ul-Ansar, based in Pakistan. Prior to their most recent demands the hijackers had also been demanding the release of a Pakistani-born cleric and several Kashmiri militants. Mr. Singh says he believes, because the hijackers are demanding the release of a Pakistani national, Islamabad might be able to help end the crisis. // OPT SINGH ACT // These facts indicate the origin of the hijackers, and considering the origins I continue to believe that Pakistan can play a positive and moderating role under the circumstances. // END OPT ACT // Meanwhile, conditions onboard the plane are reportedly deteriorating rapidly. Indian engineers who were allowed to inspect the plane report some of its systems are heavily damaged, but they have been able to restore power to the aircraft. (SIGNED) NEB/JLT/RAE 28-Dec-1999 10:48 AM EDT (28-Dec-1999 1548 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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