TITLE=PLANE HIJACKING (L)
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.
30-Dec-1999 07:17 AM EDT (30-Dec-1999 1217 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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