INTRODUCTION: Forty-nine Pakistani prisoners were due to be flown to Syria on Friday night (13 March) in exchange for more than 100 passengers held on board a hijacked airliner in Damascus.
GV Hijacked Pakistani aircraft at Damascus airport, with service truck alongside.
GV Other aircraft taxiing past hijacked plane. (3 SHOTS)
GV Syrian military aircraft taxiing nearby.
GV Fire engine standing by.
SV Newsmen near airport building.
CU Syrian spokesman making announcement.
GV Hijacked aircraft on tarmac with military vehicle nearby. (2 SHOTS)
GV Military vehicles and other cars near airport building. (2 SHOTS)
SV Groups of people and newsmen waiting and watching. (2 SHOTS)
GV Syrian soldiers.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Forty-nine Pakistani prisoners were due to be flown to Syria on Friday night (13 March) in exchange for more than 100 passengers held on board a hijacked airliner in Damascus. After being identified by the hijackers, the prisoners were then to fly on to Libya, which had agreed to accept them. The hijacking, which began 12 days ago, is believed to be the longest in history.
SYNOPSIS: Conditions on board the Pakistan International Airlines plane are appalling. Food has been allowed on boards, but conditions for the hostages are cramped, airless and unhygienic. Several hostages are said to be unwell.
The hijackers have made it clear they won't release the hostages until they are satisfied the prisoners freed by Pakistan are the ones they asked for. And it still seemed further demands could be made.
Earlier on Friday, a Pakistan envoy said the three hijackers were demanding a ransom of 120,000 U.S. dollars in additional to the release of 55 prisoners. The Pakistani government says only 49 of the prisoners are being held in its jails. A spokesman told reporters the hijackers wanted 120,000 dollars each, and were asking to be flown to Libya with their families when they had freed the hostages.
According to Syrian negotiators, a plane carrying the 49 political detainees would land in the northern city of Aleppo on board a Pakistani military transport plane. Once their identities had been confirmed they would switch to another aircraft...for the flight to Libya, which had agreed to Pakistan's request to take the detainees. Only then would have hostages be freed.
The Pakistani government said the political detainees had been assembled in Karachi ready to fly out of the country. One plane flew from Rawalpindi to Karachi carrying an unknown number of prisoners. The Libyan news agency JANA said the detainees were due to arrive in Tripoli early on Saturday, but gave no further details.
JANA said the Jamahiriyah had agreed to receive the plane for 'solely humanitarian reasons and out of concern for the lives of the innocent passengers'.