The Arab commandos holding more than 270 hostages on a desert airstrip in Jordan today (Thursday) gave Switzerland, Germany and Britain three more days in which to return the seven guerrillas in their custody.
The Arab commandos holding more than 270 hostages on a desert airstrip in Jordan today (Thursday) gave Switzerland, Germany and Britain three more days in which to return the seven guerrillas in their custody. The conditions under which this offer was made were not known, but late tonight it was announced in London that the terms the commandos had set for the final release of the airline passengers has been rejected as unacceptable by the five Western Governments concerned.
This followed another day of fierce clashes in the streets of the capital between Jordanian troops and guerrillas. The passengers who had earlier been released by the guerrillas from the desert airstrip remained in the Intercontinental Hotel and were visited by Red Cross workers who'd been attempting to establish contact with the hijackers.
The second concession put forward by the commandos was an offer to release women, children and sick passengers aboard the three jests. This would probably reduce the number of hostages by a half.
The original 72-hour ultimatum expired this morning with passengers from the Swissair DC-8, TWA 707 and the BOAC VC-10 still huddled in their aircraft on what has become known as "revolution airport".
The VC-10, hijacked over the Middle East yesterday, touched down last night to join the other two aircraft which arrived on Sunday night (September 6) after the biggest day of air piracy in aviation history.
Now, the negotiations between the Palestinian guerrillas and the Western Governments are being handled by the International Red Cross emissary in Amman, M. Andre Rochat.
World leaders including United Nations Secretary-General U Thant and Israeli Prime Minister Mrs Golda Meir have condemned the hijackings and the suffering being borne by the unfortunate victims.
One of the guerrillas whom the hijackers want returned, Palestinian Leila Khaled, is still being held in London.
The demands of the hijackers and the counter-proposals from the nations concerned have not been published. Whatever decision is reached, the guerrillas have said that this is their last extension of time. Unless their demands are met, they've threatened to blow up the captured airliners and the passengers. That possibility remains the gravest issue in the whole series of extraordinary incidents. It's also the biggest worry facing those passengers who were released in the early stages, most of whom left husbands or other relatives behind in the desert. For them, the waiting must be interminable. But they have to try and make it as pleasant as possible.
Two American women in the Intercontinental Hotel were asked how they were facing the strain....