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Kashmir Hostage Reports That He, 3 Others Are Safe

August 29, 1995| From Associated Press

SRINAGAR, India — Four Westerners held hostage in the Himalayan Mountains by the separatist Muslim group Al Faran are alive and well, one of the captives told Indian authorities Monday.

It was the first time a captive had spoken with Indian officials since they were kidnaped by Kashmiri guerrillas two months ago.

The conversation apparently was prompted by the government's demand that the kidnapers prove that the hostages are well before negotiations began.

"We are safe," government spokesman Kulbhushan Jandiyal quoted the hostage as saying. He refused to reveal the captive's name or discuss other comments.

Sources speaking on condition of anonymity said the caller was Donald Hutchings, 42, of Spokane, Wash., and that he spoke on two-way radio. Two Britons and a German are also being held hostage.

One of the hostages, American John Childs, escaped four days after he was abducted July 4. Another, Hans Ostro, 27, of Norway, was found decapitated Aug. 13.

Dozens of Muslim militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir's independence from India. About 12,000 people have died in the fighting in the past five years.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only majority Muslim state in predominantly Hindu India.

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