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DATE=12/30/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PLANE HIJACKING (L) NUMBER=2-257616 BYLINE=AYAZ GUL DATELINE=KANDAHAR CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Indian negotiators have begun a fourth day of talks with the hijackers holding 155 people on board an Indian Airlines plane, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ayaz Gul reports from the southern Afghan city that western diplomats say Taleban and Indian negotiators are optimistic about the talks. TEXT: In an unusual move uniformed Taleban commandos circled the hijacked aircraft parked at the airport in Kandahar. A pick-up truck carrying two Taleban soldiers armed with rocket launchers has also been deployed near the plane. But Taleban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed says the move is a routine change of guards around the plane. Taleban authorities took similar action Monday when the hijackers threatened to start killing the hostages. The Taleban says it will not allow the hijackers to kill the people on board the Indian jet. The hard-line Islamic movement says it will force the hijackers to leave Afghanistan if there is no swift settlement of the crisis. Meanwhile, Indian negotiators have resumed a new round of talks with the hijackers to end the hostage situation, which has entered its seventh day. Indian and Taleban officials have been asking the hijackers to release captive children and women. Wednesday the hijackers dropped two of their key demands - a 200-million-dollar ransom and the body of a slain Kashmiri militant (Sajjad Afghani) buried in India. But the five-armed hijackers still insist India release their 36 colleagues from Indian prisons. The 155-hostages on board the plane are said to be suffering the effects of nearly a week-long confinement. The Kandahar airport workers, who cleaned the plane Tuesday, say the passengers appeared pale and exhausted and the conditions inside the plane have become unhealthy. Thursday the hijackers allowed one male passenger to briefly leave the plane for medical treatment. The hijackers freed an ailing male Indian passenger after the plane landed Saturday in Afghanistan. Most of the hostages are Indian nationals. The Indian airliner was hijacked Friday after taking off from Nepal, bound for New Delhi. The plane made stops in India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Afghanistan. The hijackers killed one passenger and released 26 others in Dubai. (Signed) NEB/AG/PLM/RAE 30-Dec-1999 07:17 AM EDT (30-Dec-1999 1217 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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