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CNN Today

Afghan Plane Hijacking: Negotiations Continue as Another Hostage is Freed

Aired February 8, 2000 - 1:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Overseas, the jetliner hijacked early Sunday in Afghanistan remains parked at Britain's Stansted Airport just north of London. Negotiations continue between the hijackers and British officials, reportedly in a business-like manner. And today, another of the hostages was freed.

CNN's Chris Burns is closely watching this story from Stansted, and joins us now live.

Chris, what's happening?

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Lou, that was a glimmer of light today: about three hours ago, one more hostage was allowed to leave the plane. The hostage is described as an Afghan dressed in Afghan garb; middle-aged man; had been complaining about some kind of a health problem; could be asthmatic. So he's been given oxygen, he's been given food and water. Apparently, he's in pretty good shape.

Officials say that that is a very good sign, that they have released somebody. This is a very painstaking process. Now, he is ninth to be released here in Stansted, the 29th overall through this three-day-old hostage crisis that has spanned five countries, that began in Afghanistan.

At a press conference after the release of that man, this is what officials had to say about the fact that this is a very painstaking process.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BROUGHTON, ASST. CHIEF CONSTABLE, ESSEX POLICE: I think the fact that we've had nine people released from the aircraft is positive and should be regarded in that way. The fact that we're talking, the fact that we continue to talk, is very positive.

You know, you talk about a breakthrough: a breakthrough is every time we deliver any item to this aircraft. It takes a lot of work, a lot of negotiation, a lot of very detailed consideration. That, to me, is very positive. Those are breakthroughs. And at this stage, what we're seeking to do is to continue to build the trust that's there and to ultimately build on that so that we will, hopefully, resolve this without any injury at all to anybody. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNS: OK, now officials are saying that they're just going to continue talking, that, yes, this is important that there was a release. In fact, at the same time, there was a rainbow in the sky, if that is any portent. Officials are still hopeful that they can end this peacefully, although they say it could take days more -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Chris Burns, we'll be in touch.

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