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Peru rejects use of force to end crisis

December 21, 1996
Web posted at: 1:45 p.m. EST (1845 GMT)

LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- The Peruvian government said Saturday it won't use force to end the hostage crisis at the home of Japan's ambassador to Peru, where about 340 captives were being held by Marxist guerrillas.

Victor Joy Way, an advisor to President Alberto Fujimori, said on Peruvian television that Fujimori had rejected the use of force to solve the crisis, and was considering requests by the hostages to re-establish water, telephone and electrical service to the residence.

The hostages -- seized as they were guests at a gala international reception Tuesday night -- urged the government to negotiate with the Tupac Amaru rebels and to restore utilities to the hostage site.

A L S O :

"We are in an extremely difficult and delicate situation," said a statement written by some of the hostages and released late Friday. "We have received respectful and reasonable treatment under the circumstances but conditions are precarious."

A Lima fire chief confirmed that utilities -- water, gas and electricity -- had been shut off. The rebels are using a gas- powered generator to operate lights.

The statement called on the government to seek a "peaceful solution ... (that) discards violence."

Newspapers reported early Saturday that Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori would not negotiate with the rebels.

"He made it clear that it is not within his plans to negotiate with the subversive group," said the daily paper Gestion after a meeting between Fujimori and the editors of several local papers.


Jerico Camino, a 20-year-old business student who was among 38 hostages released Friday, said the captives are bored and frustrated, but cautioned against any attempt to storm the embassy.

"There would be casualties outside as well as in," he said. "And I think much more inside ... it would be a bloodbath."

The rebels have sworn they will not end their action until their demands -- most notable the release of over 300 of their comrades from prison -- have been met.

"The decision has been made: The people who are inside the residence will only leave if our imprisoned comrades are also freed," said a statement faxed to news media, apparently by the rebels.

Sources have said that the Peruvian cabinet will reject that demand.

Hostage release

Ambassador Lee Won-Young of South Korea, one of the hostages released Friday, said that he and the ambassadors of Brazil and Egypt were released in order to help negotiate.

"After relating the thoughts of the guerrillas, I expect to return to the (ambassador's residence) to convey the response," Lee said to Korean journalists.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda planned to meet with the three ambassadors on Saturday. Eleven ambassadors remain in the residence.

The guerrillas, disguised as waiters and caterers, took over the embassy Wednesday night during a reception honoring Japanese Emperor Akihito's birthday. On Friday, they released what appeared to be a home video showing their plans for the attack.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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