MALAITAN LEADER CALLS FOR MORE TIME TO NEGOTIATE HOSTAGES’ RELEASE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 11, 1999 – Radio Australia)--- Chairman of the Executive Council of the Malaita Conference, Andrew Nori, has called on relatives of Malaitans held hostage by Guadalcanal militants to postpone a deadline for their release.

Nori said he was making arrangements to meet leaders of the Isatambu Freedom Fighters, who have been battling immigrant Malaitans since the beginning of the year over land rights and jobs, to negotiate the release of those kidnapped.

He said efforts were under way through intermediaries to establish contacts with the militants outside Honiara, in rural Guadalcanal.

According to the human rights group Amnesty International, the freedom fighters are holding 16 hostages.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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