Scottish Piper Proudly Plays as Former Hostages Head Home With AM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A Scottish piper played proudly Tuesday as he and hundreds of other foreigners boarded flights for home after four months as hostages in Iraq and Kuwait.
Callum Strachan - dressed in the traditional kilt, tam and kneesocks of his native Scotland - saluted other hostages by playing the bagpipes as they cleared Iraqi passport control for flights home.
Three chartered jetliners carrying nearly 500 foreigners - including 243 who flew to Baghdad on Tuesday from Kuwait - left the Iraqi capital for London, Frankfurt and Bangkok.
Diplomats said just 14 Americans were on the charter flights from Baghdad. Most of those leaving were Britons.
One of the Britons, Ken Emsden, 61, said that four months after the Iraqi invasion, there was still gunfire every night in Kuwait.
He said he saw the bodies of four civilians in the street outside his hideout Tuesday morning.
″The people who deserve the greatest admiration are the Kuwaitis who sheltered us despite the fact that they could be executed on the spot if they were found helping us,″ Emsden said.
″We’re just happy it’s finally over,″ said Sid Hatcher, 35, of Knoxville, Tenn., who was held at an industrial site in Iraq.
The flight to Frankfurt carried just 14 former hostages, while the plane bound for London had 310 aboard. The Japanese-chartered plane headed for Bangkok carried 159 people, including 14 Japanese diplomats from Kuwait.
(In Frankfurt, Germany, U.S. Consulate spokesman Craig Springer said seven Americans, two Canadians, two Britons, an Irishman, an Italian and an Australian comprised the former hostages on the U.S.-chartered Iraqi Airways Boeing 707 that landed there late Tuesday from Baghdad. The seven other Americans were on the London flight, diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.)
President Saddam Hussein announced on Thursday that Iraq would allow all foreigners to leave. He had barred many foreigners from departing, and some were detained at strategic sites to ward off a possible attack.
An undisclosed number of Americans chose to stay.
″We will continue to provide all services we possibly can to all Americans left in Iraq and Kuwait,″ a senior U.S. diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Washington, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the final evacuation flight for Americans, now scheduled for Thursday, ″is likely to be the last and it is also likely to be the one to evacuate U.S. Embassy personnel from Kuwait.″
The U.S. Embassy personnel in Kuwait have defied Iraqi orders to evacuate, as have British diplomats.
But on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd indicated the two remaining British diplomats might soon leave the occupied emirate.
He said in London that once all British hostages have left, ″we will work out with these two brave men how long they should stay.″