South Moluccan gunmen dramatized their hold over more than 160 hostages today, shoving three captives with nooses around their necks out out of a hijacked train and then hauling them back, apparently unharmed, after they had stood helpless for an hour.
Earlier, as a midafternoon deadline passed without the Dutch governmnet's meeting their demands, the terrorists forced dozens of the 105 children they hold in a school to scream from the windows: "We want to stay alive."
The kidnappers had demanded free passage to an unknown destination for themselves and 21 South Moluccans jailed for earlier terrorist acts. The Dutch governmnet has refused to negotiate until all children are released unharmed.
The South Moluccans had warned that unless their demands were met, "many hostages would be killed." The deadline reprieve buoyed hopes that the hostage drama could be concluded without costing lives.
Four of the 21 prisoners were whisked to the crisis center here. Interrogated about the mystery gunmen for two hours, they returned to their cells without speaking to their comrades.
Late this evening, the hijackers forced the three hostages to stand outside the train, with nooses around their necks.
The unexpected, bizarre move was intended as "a token of their power over the passengers," said a spokesman here. 'The hijackers refused to reply when we phoned them about the incident."
Telephone lines have been set up linking the seized school and train, some 30 miles apart, with the crisis headquarters here. Two psychiatrists are handling the government's talks with the terrorits.
The prolonged tension has coused the local Dutch community to flare into open anger toward South Moluccasn, who came here after their island home was taken over by Indonesia Police surveillance of Molluccan neighborhoods has been reinforced.
"They should go back to their island and fight the Indonesians, not us," remarked a local resident as he nodded toward four South Moluccans youths whose car was being searched for weapons by Dutch troops.
Many middle-aged citizens here blame South Moluccan parents, whose islands were once a Dutch colony, for giving their children the quixotic notion of repatriation to an independent Moluccan republic.
Ever since loyalist Moluccan soldiers returned here 27 years ago bearing a grateful Dutch government's promise of self-determination, the 35,000 South Moluccans residing in Holland have nutured that dream.
Most Moluccans living here are classified as "stateless" persons. They carry a Dutch passport but hold no rights of citizenship and do not serve in the armed forces. They generally live in cultural isolation here.
After a similar hostage drama on a train in nearby Beilen took four lives in December 1975, special town meetings were established to encourage a dialogue between the Dutch and the Moluccans in this province.
"Now it's finished - all our work for nothing - I don't want to talk about it," said a shaken Marias Lammers, a district social worker who was instrumental in trying to improve ties between the two groups in recent years.
Parents of the captive children wander near the fringe of police roadblocks half a mile from the school, looking stunned and frustrated, at times asking how the children might be coping.
Food is brought to the school by a middle-aged Moluccan woman twice a day.
The two teams of guerrillas rejected the government's call for an immediate release of the children today, saying the pupils are necessary to discourage any police attack.
Around noon, a solemn procession of 30 local South Moluccans approached the school singing ethnic religious hymns. Their calls for mercy, shouted in the Moluccan language, failed to bring any positive reponse from the gunmen.
No new deadline has been set by the gunmen. A crisis staff spokeswoman said she expected the tortuous bargaining "to last a few days, but not weeks."