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Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 21:23 GMT
Pilots 'shaken' by hijack ordeal

hijack plane The hijack was a new experience for the pilots


By Kabul correspondent Kate Clark

The president of Ariana Airlines has said the two pilots of the hijacked Afghan plane were shaken by their four-day ordeal but were otherwise in good health.

The pilots Captain Nabi and Captain Saydi, spoke to him by telephone after making their escape with two other crew members.

Both pilots have worked with Ariana for over 25 years.

They flew planes during the toughest days of the civil war when Kabul airport was often a target for the warring factions.

Bravery

Their workmates said both men had proved their bravery time and again maintaining their flights even if rockets were falling.

But facing a hijack was a new experience and both men were said to be shaken by the ordeal.

Colleagues also said that if this was a hijack to try and escape Afghanistan, it is unlikely the crew were involved.

Foreign flights

Certainly those in senior positions already have access to foreign travel.

Captain Saydi has just returned from a trip to Germany where he had been arranging a one-off flight for sick Afghan children to receive treatment.

Both men are down to make special flights to Saudi Arabia.

The United Nations has given Ariana special exceptions from sanctions to fly 12,000 Afghan pilgrims to Mecca for the Hajj. Flights should start next week.

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See also:
09 Feb 00 |  UK
Pilots criticised for fleeing
09 Feb 00 |  UK
Motive mystery over hijack
09 Feb 00 |  UK
The terror of hijack ordeal
06 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Ariana: Flying in the face of adversity
07 Feb 00 |  South Asia
The view from Kabul
07 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Analysis: Who are the hijackers?

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