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38 hostages released in Peru


Tupac Amaru issues statement demanding comrades be freed

December 20, 1996
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EST (0210 GMT)

LIMA (CNN) - Peruvian rebels Friday evening freed 38 hostages from the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, where some 400 people have been held since Tuesday by leftist terrorists.

The hostages, including many who appeared to be healthy, walked away from the residence Friday evening, suggesting some sort of agreement had been reached between the rebels and the government, said CNN's Lucia Newman.


The terrorists Thursday released four hostages for medical reasons.

Among those freed Friday were Peru's Brazilian ambassador, the Korean ambassador and the Egyptian ambassador.

The Brazilian ambassador said they were released to establish communications between the rebels and the government.

At least 25 men were seen walking out of the compound into the street escorted by Red Cross officials. One of them was being pushed in a wheelchair. Red Cross mediator Michel Minning said 38 victims were being freed in total.

Television floodlights and photographers' flashes lit up the night as the group came to freedom.

The release came shortly after the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement that controls the ambassador's residence issued a statement that says they will not be satisfied merely with the public attention they have gained from the hostage standoff.

"The decision has been made. The people who are held inside the residence will only leave if our imprisoned comrades are also freed," the statement said.


"If the government insists on keeping silent and does not take our demands into account, or if it brazenly attempts to assault the diplomatic residence, it alone will bear the political responsibility for what happens to the people inside the residence."

The statement threatened rebel attacks as well on "other key targets in the country" if President Alberto Fujimori tries forcibly to take the mission, which was seized during a gala international reception Tuesday night.


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