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Hijack negotiations continue at London-Stansted Airport.

AIRLINE INDUSTRY INFORMATION-(C)1997-2000 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD

The hijacking drama involving an Ariana aircraft carrying 186 people continued at London`s Stansted airport on 7 February.

Police have so far negotiated with the hijackers, as yet still unidentified, regarding the provision of food and other supplies for those onboard. Five people were released from the aircraft on 7 February, including two men, one woman and two children. No reason for their release has been given. The hijackers had previously released about 22 passengers at stops in Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Moscow in return for fuel and supplies. There remains 160 people onboard.

The aircraft was hijacked on 6 February from Kabul in Afghanistan and was flown to Uzbekistan, Kazakstan and Moscow before arriving in London where the aircraft has rested since 0202GMT 7 February. The hijackers are believed to be demanding the release of a prisoner held in the Afghan city of Kandahar. Afghani media has speculated that this may be Ismail Khan, a former regional governor imprisoned since 1997 by the ruling Taliban movement.

The Boeing 727 aircraft is located about half a mile from the main terminal at Stansted and British authorities have said that it will not be allowed to leave, while the Taliban has said that it will not negotiate with the hijackers nor agree to any of their demands. The Afghan opposition, which the Taliban have blamed for the incident, has released a statement disclaiming any involvement in the incident saying that it `adamantly condemns` the hijacking according to the Associated Press.

The released passengers meanwhile have indicated that there are between eight to ten hijackers onboard and the Taliban has stated that from now on armed guards will travel on all Ariana flights, which are not supposed to leave the country due to United Nations sanctions on the country.

Stansted airport was initially closed to all traffic, but has reopened for limited services.

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Comment:Hijack negotiations continue at London-Stansted Airport.
Publication:Airline Industry Information
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 8, 2000
Words:331
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