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US, Canada Hijack Victims Speak

January 3, 2000

NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ Jeanne Moore says her status as the only American on board a hijacked Indian Airlines plane made her fear that she would be singled out by her captors.

``I always felt the pressure of being an American ... and was always expecting the worst to happen to me,″ the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Moore, 53, as saying Monday. ``I comforted myself by thinking about my family and my friends.″

Moore, a teacher and psychotherapist from Bakersfield, Calif., said the hijackers took her passport, ``and my offer to speak with my government was turned down, making me more worried.″

Moore left India on Monday for home, 10 days after her flight from Nepal to New Delhi was hijacked Dec. 24. Her whereabouts weren’t publicly known Monday night. She and 154 other hostages were freed Dec. 31 after India agreed to release two Kashmiri militants and a Pakistani fundamentalist cleric.

Her son, Jim, a Bakersfield police officer, came to India to accompany her home.

Hostage Shirley Macklin, a Canadian, had similar fears.

``I said, `Well, OK, so who will they kill?′ I’m a likely candidate because I’m Canadian, that’s kind of a high-profile country,″ said the 60-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

In an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio from New Delhi, Macklin said she came to terms with the possibility of dying during the standoff. She comforted herself by thinking about her family and doing yoga exercises.

Moore thought she was going to be killed when the hijackers asked her to spell coffin.

``When the bad guys approached me and asked, ‘What do you call the box to keep a body?’ I thought it was meant for me,″ Moore said. ``I spelled the word, `coffin,′ and wrote it on a piece of paper and gave it to them, not knowing what was going to happen.″

Moore described riding a roller coaster of emotions.

``We were scared a lot. We never knew what was going to happen to us,″ Moore told the Los Angeles Times. ``It was a very interesting study in people.″

She also described how the hijackers played on hostages’ nerves. ``At one point of time they used to terrorize us, and then you see them handing over packets of food. We were confused,″ Moore said.

``Though they were nice to women and children, I got hit on my head by one of the hijackers when I tried to bend and blow off a bug which was troubling me on my hand,″ she said. ``It is truly amazing that anyone can be so cruel.″

The Press Trust of India quoted Moore as saying, ``the scene in there was not just like out of a Hollywood thriller, which is dramatic and exciting. It was terror and bad stuff. They smelled bad.″

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