FA 140

31 December 1999


Release of Hostages - Indian Airlines Flight IC-814

I am delighted by the recent news that there has been a peaceful resolution to the hostage crisis in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and that the 155 innocent hostages on board Indian Airlines flight IC-814, including Australian citizen Mr Peter Ward, have been released unharmed.

Earlier this evening the Australian representative in Kandahar, our Consul to Islamabad, Mr Peter Sugden, relayed information to me of the likelihood of their release. Mr Sugden has now confirmed their release and this information has been passed on to Mr Ward's wife and daughter in New Delhi and his family here in Australia.

I am advised that, despite the circumstances of his enforced detention, Peter is in remarkably good health and spirits. He commented to Mr Sugden that he is relieved his ordeal is over and he was looking forward to being reunited with his wife and daughter in New Delhi.

This is a moment of great joy and relief for the family of Peter Ward who have spent the last seven days hoping that this moment would soon arrive. Their hopes have now been answered.

Peter and his fellow hostages were released by their captors at approximately 11.00pm AEDT more than seven days after they were taken captive on Christmas eve, shortly after departing Katmandhu on a two hour flight to New Delhi.

Their release follows five days of lengthy negotiations between the hijackers and Indian Government representatives.

Immediately upon their release the 155 passengers and crew of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 were met by their national diplomatic representatives as well as health care workers present in Kandahar. They were given initial medical treatment before being transferred to an Indian Government aircraft bound for New Delhi.

It is expected that on arrival in New Delhi the former hostages will be reunited with their loved ones before being given medical treatment and trauma couselling.

I would like to acknowledge the role played by the Indian Government, particularly Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, the Government of Afghanistan, and the United Nations, which has led to the peaceful resolution of this hostage situation. Additionally, I acknowledge the efforts during the Christmas New Year period of the men and women of my Department in Canberra, and our overseas missions, particularly in New Delhi and Islamabad, who were involved in the successful release of Peter Ward unharmed.


Media Enquiries:

Departmental - Matt Francis (02) 6261 1555

Local Date: Tuesday, 07-Jan-2014 10:35:15 EST

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