UPA (Utanian Press Agency)
Release: July 23rd, 301 AP.

Passengers allowed to walk about plane

Utanian government negotiators, working with the hijackers of the Aij Utani plane in
Lochboer, say they are making "baby steps" of progress, but the hijackers are getting
increasingly agitated.

The passengers on board the Aij Utani K-0330 jet are allowed to disembark the plane in
groups of twelve and get some sunshine, if escorted by the hijackers and handcuffed
together, according to the Utanian negotiating team in Lochboer who have worked solidly
for two weeks with the paramilitary hijackers. Such is the state of increasingly tense
negotiations.

"The paramilitaries are paranoid there will be a military attempt to rescue the passengers
and crew", said one from the negotiating team. "So, they are keeping a tight rein on the
passengers -- their bargaining collateral -- such that even allowing the passengers to see
daylight has been a difficult achievement."

Another negotiator described the hijackers as "fraying at the edges". He said that they
are having to remain constantly alert for, we're guessing, twelve hours a day, and remain
sufficiently alert at night to assist against any rescue attempt, so that after two weeks
they are feeling "ratty and on edge".

A makeshift hospital has been established by Utanian officials at the Lochboer airport,
out of sight of passengers and hijackers, "just in case".

The hijackers are holding 183 crew and passengers from six countries on the jet, and are
demanding safe passage for themselves from the airport, several million Crown in
"reparations" after the early-June defensive by Utanian troops, and the "immediate and
unconditional release" of fifty-one of their compatriots being held in an Utanian military
prison.

President Okarvits has so-far refused to concede the latter two demands, causing
negotiations to stand still.


©UPA, 301 AP.

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©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)