TERRORISTS: Surrender in Amsterdam

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Shortly after noon last Friday, the bright flag of the self-proclaimed South Moluccan Republic—red, with green, white and red bars—was pulled back inside a window of the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam. Minutes later, 25 hostages—ten women and 15 men, most of them Indonesian—walked out of the building, cheering, waving and smiling. Soon afterward their seven captors surrendered to Dutch police. Thus ended one of the most bizarre episodes of terrorism in recent years.

The trouble began Dec. 2 when six South Moluccans took over a suburban Dutch railroad train; they vowed to hold it and its passengers hostage until the government of The Netherlands promised to help South Molucca Islands obtain their independence from Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. Two days later seven other South Moluccans invaded the Indonesian consulate, holding those inside hostage to back up the demands of their fellow terrorists. Three of the prisoners aboard the train were soon shot and killed by their captors, and one man died after jumping from a window of the consulate.

Despite popular cries that it use force against them, the Dutch government decided to wait out the terrorists, offering them no concessions at all. The tactic worked. First to surrender were the train hijackers (TIME, Dec. 22); they were quickly charged with murder. The South Moluccans inside the consulate, who had heard of the news of their companions' surrender on the TV and radio, gave in after their government's "President," Johan Manusama, assured them that the Dutch were willing at least to talk about the rebels' political situation in The Netherlands.

Removing the Barbs. Despite their 15-day ordeal, the hostages from the consulate were in surprisingly good health. None had to be hospitalized, and within hours all had returned to their families. By then, police had taken down the barbed wire that they had strung around the consulate—and that Amsterdammers had thoughtfully strung with Christmas decorations to make it look less forbidding.