Kashmiri insurgents holding five Western hostages, including one American from Spokane, two Britons, a German, and a Norwegian, threatened on Wednesday to kill them if the Indian government does not free more than 20 captured guerrilla leaders.
In a statement to The Associated Press in Srinagar, the capital of the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir, the militants warned that the hostages would be killed if their demands were not met by Saturday.
More than 2,000 Indian troops had joined in a search after the two Americans and two Britons were kidnapped on July 4. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the soldiers had scaled back their search for the hostages because of the threat to kill them. One of the captives, John Childs, of Simsbury, Conn., escaped on Saturday into the Himalaya foothills after fooling his captors into thinking he was ill.
Spokane psychologist Donald F. Hutchings, 42, remains in captivity.
His wife, 40-year-old Jane Schelly of Spokane, was held briefly by the militants but was released. Hutchings and Schelly are avid mountain climbers. They were on a five-week trip to India before they were taken captive.