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The BBC's Gavin Hewitt reports
"No one will be forced to go home"
 real 28k

The BBC's Bridget Kendall reports
"Britain doesn't want to become a haven for hijackers"
 real 28k

Home Secretary Jack Straw
"Nobody should consider that there can be any benefit obtained by hijacking"
 real 28k

The BBC's Kate Clark reports from Kabul
"There's huge relief here that the crisis has finally come to an end"
 real 28k

The BBC's diplomatic editor Brian Hanrahan
"There will be a universal desire for heavy sentences to stop a new bout of hijackings"
 real 28k

Robin Corbett Labour MP
"They have a perfect right to make asylum applications"
 real 28k

Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 19:00 GMT
Stern response to asylum plea

The hostages have had their details processed The hostages have had their details processed

At least 60 hostages released from a hijacked Afghan plane are seeking political asylum in the UK.

Twenty-one people have also been arrested following Thursday's peaceful end to the hijack crisis at Stansted Airport.

No motive has been established for the four-day hijack, but speculation had grown that the gunmen and their hostages were looking to flee the Taleban authorities.

Following the end of the crisis, Home Secretary Jack Straw said he would deal personally with all requests for asylum from passengers on the plane.

He condemned the hijackers "unequivocally" and said he was determined that no one should consider there to be any benefit from hijacking.

He added: "Subject to all legal requirements, I would wish to see removed from this country all those on the plane, as soon as is reasonably practicable."

Chief Constable David Stevens led the police team Chief Constable David Stevens led the police team
Essex police chief constable David Stevens, who led the negotiating team, said "no political demands were made" and "no guarantees had been given" before Thursday's final negotiations.

But he said it was only during the last hour, between 0500GMT and 0600GMT, that the hijackers were "concerned about the political situation in Afghanistan".

It is unclear whether any of the 21 people arrested are among those requesting permission to stay in the country.

Under international law the UK is obliged to consider any asylum claim submitted once any potential criminal proceedings are completed.

Following the escape of the flight crew significant threats of injury were made to the passengers
Chief constable David Stevens
When asked whether police thought the crisis had been an actual hijack or a mass exodus Mr Stevens was vociferous in his response.

"I can certainly, categorically state that when you find five knives, four handguns, one knuckle duster, two detonators and two grenades without fuses, in my view that is a hijack."

It is understood only one person was injured during the crisis, when a man was thrown down the steps of the aircraft following the escape of the pilot and three crew members.

Countdown to freedom
0300GMT - Two hijackers leave plane for face-to-face meeting with negotiators
0318GMT - Release of 85 passengers
0345GMT - Talks resume, police say
0600GMT Hijack ends with release of remaining passengers
Police said they would now be checking the medical condition of all passengers before the long and complex process of debriefing those released began.

It is understood the suspected hijackers are being held at a secure police station in Essex.

Police have established a reception centre at a nearby hotel for passengers, and are continuing to search the aircraft and gather forensic evidence.

The remaining 65 of the 151 passengers still on board were released just before 0600GMT. The hijackers surrendered peacefully.

The Afghan airliner was hijacked on Sunday during an internal flight in Afghanistan and flown across Central Asia and Russia. It has been on the tarmac at Stansted since early Monday.

Police are now gathering forensic evidence Police are now gathering forensic evidence
In Afghanistan, the ruling Taleban movement said they were relieved the hijack was over.

They said they appreciated the efforts of the British Government, and the fact that people were being let off the plane was very good news.

On Wednesday the authorities arrested 10 people in charge of security at Kabul airport over the hijacking.

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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Asylum pleas 'will not be met'
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Asylum: What now for the hostages and hijackers?
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hotel luxury for hijack passengers
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Afghanistan seeks return of plane
10 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Analysis: Afghan hijack aftermath
10 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Hijackers 'should be deported'
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hijack timetable
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Calm ending to hijack
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hijack ordeal over

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