AS THIS was written, we knew that a particular form of terrorism had come to the capital of the country for the first time on Wednesday, March 9, 1977, that at least one person had been killed, that several people had been severely wounded, and that dozens were being held hostage in three separate localities in the city. We did not know how the deepening crisis would unfold - or end. We knew only enough to know how little there was that could be usefully said or done by those not directly responsible for dealing with the events.

There are some things that almost go without saying. Our sense of it was that the authorities - city officials, the police, the emergency services, the federal investigators and all others pressed into service - were performing with characteristically admirable restraint, patience, sensitivity and skill. Under the most trying conditions, they were keeping the essential objective uppermost in mind - the saving of lives.

Like everyone else, we share a profound and acute concern for the welfare of those who were inadvertently and capriciously caught up in the events - the hostages, their families and friends. And our deep sympathy goes out to those who were directly, or indirectly, the victims of the violence that erupted in this city without warning yesterday morning.