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The BBC's Adam Brooks reports
"On news of the deal the hijackers warily emerged from the plane"
 real 28k

The BBC's Eve Conway reports
"Back on Indian soil"
 real 28k

Kate Clark reports from Kandahar
"Hostages said hijackers killed one of their own gang"
 real 28k

Friday, 31 December, 1999, 15:32 GMT
Indian hijack drama over

Hijacker climbing down ladder One of the hijackers leaves as the crisis comes to an end

The eight day-long hijack of an Indian Airlines aircraft is over after a deal between the Indian Government and the hijackers.

Hijack Special Report
The 155 hostages left the plane at Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan - as did the five hijackers - after India agreed to free three Kashmiri militants from prison.

The end of the drama came about quickly after the three released militants - along with the Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh - arrived at Kandahar airport from Delhi.

The hijackers, who climbed down from the plane with their weapons, sped off from the airport in waiting vehicles.

They have been refused asylum by the Taleban and have been given 10 hours to leave Afghanistan.

It is also reported that the hijackers are holding a Taleban official as a guarantee for their safety.

It is not yet clear where they are heading.

Some of the released passengers say that the hijackers killed a member of their own gang during the hostage crisis, although that has not been confirmed by officials.

In Delhi, the government has been defending its decision to release the militants.

The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said in a New Year's broadcast that the government had been able to scale down the hijackers' demands considerably.

Earlier on Friday, the government announced details of the deal to end the drama.

"As a result of negotiations with the Taleban government and the hijackers, there has been an agreement for release of all the hostages in exchange for three militants," National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra said in Delhi.

Jailed cleric free

Daughter on mobile phone The daughter of one of the hostages tells relatives about the deal
Mr Mishra said the freed militants included Maulana Masood Azhar, the Pakistani cleric who had been at the top of the list of jailed activists the hijackers wanted released.

The other two were named as Ahmed Omar Sayed Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar.

All three have connections to a militant movement that seeks to separate Kashmir from India. They were among 36 militants who the five hijackers had demanded freed.

Deteriorating conditions

Taleban foreign minister Mr Muttawakil: Hopeful of a solution
The move come as conditions on board the hijacked airliner deteriorated after the plane's engines failed.

There was no explanation for the power failure, which shut off the heating and plunged the plane into darkness.

The engines had been kept running almost continuously since the plane landed at Kandahar, partly to protect the hostages and hijackers against Afghanistan's extremely cold winter nights.

Click here to see the route the hijacked plane followed.

It was the second time the engines on the Indian Airlines plane had failed since it landed at Kandahar airport.

On the first occasion, an Indian engineer was allowed on board to carry out repairs while one of the hijackers left the plane to guarantee his safety.

The ordeal for the 155 hostages entered its eighth day on Friday. The plane was hijacked on 24 December, and had been on the tarmac at Kandahar since early the following day.

The hijackers stabbed one hostage to death in the early hours of the hijacking, and released 27, mainly women and children, during a stopover in Dubai.

Another hostage, who suffers from diabetes, was released on 26 December.

On Thursday an Indian hostage, Simon Berar, 30, who is reported to suffer from stomach cancer, was allowed off the plane for 90 minutes to receive hospital treatment.

The majority of the passengers were Indian, but there were also citizens of Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United States.

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See also:
30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Hope for hijack talks
30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: Testing time for Taleban
30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
History of hijacking
29 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Hijackers drop two demands
29 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: India warms to the Taleban
28 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Analysis: A high profile militant group
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Chronology of a hijack
28 Dec 99 |  South Asia
International concern over hijack
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Profile: Maulana Masood Azhar
26 Dec 99 |  South Asia
In pictures: The Indian Airlines hijack
27 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Indian media slams government

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