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MILITANTS KILL 3RD PASSENGER

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Muslim militants holding about 180 hostages on a French jetliner killed a third passenger and dumped the body on the tarmac at Algiers airport Sunday night. The militants demanded to be flown out of the country.

Two hostages died on Saturday after they were shot and pushed out of the jetliner. French and Algerian authorities had intervention forces standing ready.The third victim was dumped from the plane after repeated gunshots were heard by reporters. The French Foreign Ministry, in a communique, confirmed that the victim was killed but that the identity was not immediately available.

About 180 passengers and crew remained trapped inside the Air France plane seized Saturday by five gunmen demanding to fly to an undisclosed country, authorities said.

Unconfirmed French news reports said the militants had set 9:30 p.m., the time the body was pushed from the plane, as their departure deadline and had threatened to kill more hostages.

Top French officials conferred with their Algerian counterparts. Both governments said they had commandos standing ready but were seeking to save lives.

At least 57 hostages, most of them women and children, had been released on Saturday.

"The hostages are our primary concern," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told French television.

Asked if the plane could be allowed to fly to France, Juppe said he did not want "to commit myself to hypotheses . . . but we are ready to consider any initiative allowing a solution to the drama."

The hijacking was the most dramatic attack staged by Muslim guerrillas who have been waging war against Algeria's military-installed government.

Three more hostages were released Sunday afternoon amid tense negotiations by radio between authorities in the control tower and the five gunmen speaking from the cockpit of the Air France plane.

That raised the total number freed to at least 60 since the jetliner with 227 passengers and 12 crew members was commandeered shortly before takeoff Saturday, officials said.