Nation/World

Hutchings Shot, Is Critically Ill, Rebels Report Hostage Makes Statement On Tape Released By Captors

A Spokane psychologist being held hostage in northern India has been shot and his fellow British hostage critically wounded, according to a tape released Saturday by their Kashmiri rebel captors.

Donald Hutchings, 42, said in the audiotape that he was wounded during an Indian attack on the rebels in the mountains.

“I do not have the strength to speak much,” Hutchings said. “But I think Keith (Mangan) is critically ill with many wounds in (his) broken leg. We have no medicines.”

Along with the tape, the rebels sent their own statement and two color photographs showing Hutchings and Mangan, 33, of Middlesbrough, England, swathed in bloodstained bandages.

Hutchings was bandaged around his abdomen; Mangan around his chest and left knee. Mangan appeared to have an intravenous drip in his right arm.

In their message, the rebels said Hutchings, Mangan and another of the five hostages - Dirk Hasert, 26, of Erfurt, Germany - were critically ill and could die.

“For the last three days they have stopped eating,” it said. “Unless immediate treatment is given they may die and for that the Indian government will be responsible.”

Hutchings’ wife, Jane Schelly, 40, was held briefly by the militants but was released.

Hutchings is a neuropsychologist who specializes in therapy for persons who have suffered brain injuries. Schelly is a physical education teacher at Arlington Elementary School.

The two are avid mountain climbers and were on a five-week trip to India before they were taken captive.

Hutchings, a longtime Spokane resident whose father lives in Coeur d’Alene, taught classes for the Spokane Mountaineers Club.

The rebels issued a statement July 21 saying two of the hostages were wounded during a battle with Indian soldiers near the town of Pahalgam. The government has denied any such clash occurred.

Reporters said the voice on the tape matched that on an earlier tape of Hutchings released by the rebels and accepted as authentic by U.S. diplomats.

But it was not clear under what conditions it was made.

The statement did not explicitly repeat the threat to kill the five captives, but said that if foreign governments wanted the hostages released, they should pressure India to fulfill the rebels’ demands.

The rebels scaled down their conditions for the release of the hostages, saying they want India to free 15 jailed guerrillas - instead of the 21 whose release they had previously demanded.

India has refused to free any militants.

The rebels belong to the Al-Faran group, which is fighting for the independence of Kashmir in northern India.

The rebels began kidnapping the tourists on July 4.

The other two are Paul Wells, 23, of London and Hans Christian Ostro, 27, of Oslo, Norway. Another American, John Childs, escaped from the guerrillas four days after being captured.

Nearly 12,000 people have been killed since rebels began their fight for Kashmir’s secession in 1989.

Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in mostly Hindu India.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo



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