Thursday, October 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Body of Al Faran hostage exhumed

SRINAGAR, Oct 25 (UNI) — The five-year-old Al Faran hostage crisis has taken a new turn with a body, reportedly belonging to one of the four missing nationals of Britain, USA and Germany being exhumed from a grave at Dooru in south Kashmir on the disclosure of two arrested militants.

Official sources said that two militants arrested recently from Dooru said that the body of one of the four European hostages was buried in the graveyard of Dooru after their killing in captivity.

Later, the body was exhumed from the grave in the presence of senior civil, police and forensic officials. The remains of the body have been taken for forensic and other tests, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police (Crime) Mohammad Amin Shah refused to comment when asked about the body exhumed from the grave.

He, however, said “We have not yet closed the case and our investigation is still going on.”

It was on July 4, 1995, when the AlFaran abducted about 10 European tourists from the Pahalgam forests, about 100 km from here in south Kashmir.

However, three women and an old man were released the same evening while Paul Wells, Keith Manigam of the United Kingdom, Donald Fred Hutchings and John Childs of the United States, Dirk Hasert of Germany and Ostro Christian of Norway were held captive by militants.

Those released included the wives of Mr Hutchings and Mr Manigam.

However, John Childs gave slip to his captors and managed to escape from their clutches on July 9. Ostro Christian of Norway was not so lucky as his beheaded body was recovered from a village in south Kashmir on August 13, 1995.

The hitherto unknown outfit demanded the release of 20 jailed militants including Maulana Azhar Masood and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar in exchange of hostages.

Masood and Zargar were released early this year in exchange for the Indian Airlines IC 814 hostages after it was hijacked to Afghanistan.

However, after authorities refused to release any militant in exchange for the European hostages, there was no word from Al Faran until December 1995, when its commander-in-chief was killed along with three other militants in an encounter with security forces.

The outfit claimed that the three European hostages were rescued by Indian forces while the fourth was missing after the encounter in which its chief was killed.

However, this theory was rejected by the defence spokesman who said the militants were telling a lie.

Then started the never-ending and traumatic wait for the relatives of the hostages.

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