Red Cross official named hostage negotiator in Peru
Captives reportedly in good condition,
but no end to standoff in sight
December 19, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EST (2000 GMT)
In this story:
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- An International Red Cross official,
Michel Minning, was appointed Thursday as chief negotiator
with Peruvian rebels holding hundreds of hostages at the
Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima.
Minning was present when members of the Tupac Amaru
Revolutionary Movement seized their hostages late Tuesday,
but has been allowed to come and go in his capacity as an
intermediary between the hostage-takers and the Peruvian
There has been no indication that the rebels holding a dozen
ambassadors and hundreds of other dignitaries have carried
out their threat to begin executing their captives.
The rebels are demanding the release of 300 jailed comrades,
changes in government policy, money, and safe passage to the
Earlier Thursday, Canadian Ambassador Anthony Vincent, who
was among the hostages released on Wednesday, re-entered the
residence with a Peruvian diplomat and spent about half an
hour talking with the rebels.
When they emerged, Vincent said they were passing messages
between the government of President Alberto Fujimori and the
He said negotiations would resume later Thursday, but
stressed that he couldn't elaborate out of concern for the
The U.S. Embassy in Lima set up a special hostage crisis
center manned by FBI agents, and Washington dispatched
security agents to advise the embassy on protecting the
estimated 10,000 Americans in Peru against any broader
In Washington, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said
U.S. policy was against making concessions to hostage-takers,
but he said it was important that "lines of communication
(454K/21 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
None of the guests taken hostage during a party at the
Japanese ambassador's house Tuesday night had been killed,
and "it's very tranquil" inside, according to Red Cross
doctor Marc Cortal, who helped deliver water, medicine and
sandwiches to the residence Wednesday night.
"We spoke with people, collected messages for their
families," he said early Thursday at a
police line near the
two-story residence that is part of a spacious, walled-in
The hostages total about 400 people, informed sources told
CNN. They are being held in separate rooms guarded by
guerrillas with hand grenades.
The number of rebels inside the compound was estimated by
various witnesses as between 10 and 23.
The standoff began Tuesday night. Members of the
Cuban-inspired guerrilla group posed as waiters, carrying
hors d'oeuvres and champagne, to gain access to the Lima home
of the Japanese ambassador during a reception to celebrate
the birthday of Japan's emperor.
Peruvian television said that the rebels had also rented the
house next to the
ambassador's and had dug a tunnel under the wall that
surrounds the Japanese compound.
The Lima newspaper, La Republica, said the uniformed rebels
entered the compound through the tunnel, carrying automatic
rifles, rocket launchers, and grenades.
Around 8 p.m. the rebels attacked, setting off explosions and
exchanging gunfire with police for almost an hour. Two
hostages and a rebel were reported wounded.
The rebels released about 170 people, most of them women and
elderly guests, early in the standoff.
Correspondent Susan Candiotti in Lima, Peru, contributed to
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