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December 28, 1999
Hijackers demand release of 35 militants and $ 200 million
The hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 today revised their demands and sought the release of 35 more militants and 200 million US dollars in cash for setting free 155 people being held hostage by them for five day now.
In the ongoing direct talks with the seven-member Indian team headed by joint secretary in the external affairs ministry Vivek Katju, the hijackers also demanded that India hand over the body of Sajjad Afghani, who died in army action in the Kashmir Valley, besides releasing Harkat-ul-Mujahideen ideologue Maulana Masood Azhar.
The note containing the fresh demands was dropped from the aircraft by the hijackers.
This was disclosed by External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh to reporters after a cabinet meeting which lasted about 90 minutes.
Without specifying the government response to the fresh demands, Singh said: ''Let the international community and the nation understand the demands.''
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's ruling Taleban militia has vowed not to harbour the hijackers under any circumstances. "We are not at all willing to harbour any hijackers," Taleban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel told reporters, as Indian negotiators continued to talk to the hijackers in Kandahar.
If there is a deal between the two sides and the hostages are released, the Afghan authorities would hand over the hijackers to the International Committee of the Red Cross, he said. "It will be for the ICRC to take them wherever they want," the foreign minister said.
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