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The BBC's Tony Smith
"For some the ordeal is over"
 real 28k

The BBC's Frank Gardner
"Passengers still on board"
 real 28k

Saturday, 25 December, 1999, 09:14 GMT
Hijacked plane lands in Afghanistan

Passenger lists Relatives check passenger lists at Delhi's Indira Gandhi airport


A hijacked Indian Airlines plane has landed at an airport in southern Afghanistan after a flight from Dubai where some hostages were freed.

The plane has been flying between airports and countries since gunmen first took control of the plane on 24 December.


Hijack timeline
24 Dec 1055 GMT: Plane leaves Katmandu
1130 GMT: Hijackers demand to be flown to Lahore, Pakistan
1331 GMT: Plane lands at Amritsar, India
1437 GMT: Plane lands at Lahore without Pakistani permission.
2010 GMT: Plane lands at Al-Minhad military air base near Dubai, UAE
25 Dec 0055 GMT: Some hostages released and plane takes off
0303 GMT: Plane lands at Kandahar, Afghanistan
It landed in India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before its most recent stop in Afghanistan.

So far, any demands the hijackers have made, apart from refuelling requests, have not been made public.

The ruling Taleban authorities in Afghanistan allowed the A300 Airbus to land and refuel at Kandahar after a request from the Indian Civil Aviation Authority, a spokesman said.

But the Taleban have reportedly refused to grant the hijackers asylum.

Taleban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said: "The Indian authorities have been in touch with our embassy and asked that the plane be allowed to land in Kandahar. The pilot is very tired they told us."

The plane had flown to Afghanistan from Dubai, where negotiators from the UAE agreed to refuel the plane in return for the release of 25 passengers.

Most of the freed hostages were women and children.

The Indian Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that one dead body and one injured person were also taken off the plane at Dubai.

The dead person is believed to have been stabbed to death by the hijackers.

The hijackers claim to have killed four hostages.

The plane took off shortly after it had been refuelled and the passengers released.

The UAE authorities said the hijackers had made no political demands and gave no indication of their motives.

Popular route

There were originally about 190 people on the plane when armed gunmen took control of the plane, which was on a flight from Katmandu to Delhi.

The drama began at about 1130 GMT on 24 December with the hijackers demanding to be taken Lahore but landing permission was denied by the Pakistan Government.


Relatives waiting for news at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi
The plane touched down briefly at the Indian city of Amritsar before flying on to Lahore. It landed there without permission and despite the fact that runway lights had been switched off.

The plane was reported to be on the point of running out of fuel as it landed.

The decision to allow the plane to refuel and leave Lahore came after the hijackers claimed to have killed some of those on board.

The Indian Airlines flight was on a daily run from Katmandu to Delhi - a popular route for tourists and business travellers.

There were reported to be 189 passengers on board, of whom 150 are Indian. Other nationalities include Nepali, Swiss, Spanish, Canadian, French, Belgian, American, Japanese and Italian.

In the past, attempts to hijack Indian aircraft and take them to Lahore have failed, usually because authorities there refused the aircraft permission to land.

The last such hijacking took place in 1993, when a lone hijacker commandeered an aircraft and attempted to take it to Pakistan.

The hijackings have usually been carried out by separatist militants

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See also:
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Chronology of a hijack
24 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Hijack negotiations in Dubai

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