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Thursday, August 20, 1998 Published at 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK

World: South Asia

Pakistani hijackers to hang

Army commandos surround the hijacked plane

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has handed down death sentences to four people for hijacking a passenger plane.

The court described the action of the three hijackers and an airport security official who conspired to allowed him to board the plane with weapons, as "an act of treason" and said "thus the court decides to hang them till death."

The Pakistan International Airlines plane was on a domestic flight from Turbat City to Karachi, when it was hijacked on May 24.

The hijackers initially wanted to take the plane to neighbouring India, but because of the shortage of fuel the pilot landed it instead in the Pakistani city of Hyderabad.

After several hours of negotiations, during which the hijackers demanded $20m as ransom, Pakistani security forces overpowered the men and freed all 29 hostages.

The defendants - who were tried by a special anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad - have seven days to appeal to the high court.

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