Animal may have caused Peru hostage blast
Siege drags on for 9th day
December 26, 1996
Web posted at: 12:50 p.m. EST (1750 GMT)
LIMA, Peru (CNN) -- An animal may have caused an explosion early Thursday at the booby-trapped Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Red Cross officials said. Peruvian rebels have been holding 104 government officials and businessmen captive for nine days at the residence.
The Red Cross said it had not received any reports of injuries to hostages in the 1:43 a.m. (0643 GMT) blast. There was no further explanation of what kind of animal might have triggered the blast or whether the explosion occurred inside the building or on the grounds, which are surrounded by a 10-foot (3-meter) wall.
Eyewitness accounts of the explosion:
(114K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
(138K/13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Local newspapers have speculated the blast might have been caused by a cat treading on one of the mines the rebels reportedly have planted near the entrances to the residence.
Released hostages said the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement rebels told them the roof of the home and the area immediately around it is mined, and that the rebels carry backpacks with explosives rigged to detonate if they pull cords.
They are demanding that the Peruvian government release more than 300 jailed colleagues.
Green-tinted night-vision video taken immediately after Thursday morning's explosion showed no smoke, but birds were seen flying away from the ambassador's residence. The force of the blast also triggered lights and warning sirens from car alarms in the neighborhood.
Christmas Day hostage release
On Christmas Day, the hostage-takers freed an ailing Japanese
diplomat, one of more than 400 captives to be released since
the drama began on December 17.
His head slumped to one side, Kenji Hirata, 34, a first
secretary at the Japanese embassy in Lima, was pushed out of
the residence by Red Cross workers in a wheelchair.
Hirata was also accompanied by Roman Catholic bishop Juan
Luis Cipriani, who spent more than seven hours inside the
Correspondent Susan Candiotti and Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.