Masked Arabs wielding grenades and pistols and demanding freedom for pro-Iranian terrorists in Kuwait Wednesday called a doctor aboard a hijacked jet to treat two women believed to be members of Kuwait's royal family.
The physician, identified only as Dr. Qassem, was quoted by Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency as describing the condition of one of the women as "not satisfactory." The hijackers reportedly said some passengers were "unwell."The five or six Arabic-speaking hijackers said Tuesday that three members of Kuwait's royal Al-Sabah family on the jet would be in "imminent danger" unless Kuwait freed 17 convicted pro-Iranian extremists in 12 hours. Kuwait rejected the demand.
The deadline passed at 10 a.m. (2:30 a.m. EDT), according to Tehran radio. The hijackers then contacted the Mashhad Airport tower in northeastern Iran "to remind that the respite is nearing the end," IRNA said.
The doctor did not identify the women he treated or say what was wrong with them. He said he asked the hijackers to let the womem leave the plane, but they refused.
According to a passenger list from the Kuwait Airways Boeing 747, they were the only women among the 87 hostages remaining after the release Wednesday of 24 female passengers and flight attendants.
The Kuwaiti Cabinet called the hijackers' demands "blackmail," and it sent a team to Iran to negotiate with the hijackers after meeting in emergency session under Crown Prince Sheik Saad al-Abdullah Al-Sabah.
The U.S. State Department said it believed there were
no Americans aboard the jet, which was commandeered Tuesday en route to Kuwait from Bangkok and forced to land in Iran. The hijackers have threatened to blow the plane up.
One man still aboard the plane has a U.S. and an Egyptian passport.
According to the passenger list, the two women from Kuwait's royal family are Ebtesam Khaled Al-Sabah and Anware Khaled Al-Sabah. A male member of the royal family on the jet was identified as Fadel Khaled Al-Sabah.
Kuwaiti sources who demanded anonymity said Fadel is a businessman and distant relative of Kuwait's emir, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the target of an assassination attempt by pro-Iranian extremists in 1986.
The women were identified as Fadel's sisters.
IRNA, monitored in Nicosia, said that in their last contact with the control tower Wednesday, the hijackers asked for breakfast, oxygen, a doctor, and a generator to keep the air conditioning working. It quoted them as telling the airport tower that "some of the passengers are feeling unwell."
The hijackers also said they did not believe "negotiations between them and Iranian negotiators at the aiport here would prove useful," IRNA said.
They repeated a threat to force the plane to take off for an unspecified destination.
There have been conflicting reports in the Iranian media over whether the Boeing 747 has been refueled since it landed Tuesday. Kuwait has asked Iran not to allow the jetliner to take off.
The Iranians said the plane will have to leave if the crisis is not resolved soon.
The hijackers freed 24 women after negotiations with Iran's Deputy Prime Minister, Ali Reza Moayyeri, Iran's official media said. Another passenger, a Jordanian with a heart condition, was freed Tuesday.
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