LIMA, Peru (AP) -- About 50 convicted Maoist-Shining Path rebels
in a frigid Andean prison were holding guards hostage Monday, after a riot
that left at least two people dead.
One guard and one rebel were killed in riots at Yanamayo prison that were
started Sunday by rebels loyal to Oscar Ramirez Durand, who was
captured last year, said cable news station Canal N.
The rebels, armed with homemade knives, took an undetermined number of
guards hostage and demanded to be treated as prisoners of war instead of
terrorists, news stations reported.
Officials declined to confirm or deny the reports. Television broadcast
images of heavily armed police surrounding the prison.
Dr. Elias Aycacha, director of the Puno State Hospital told Peruvian radio
that three police guards had been injured, one critically.
A Justice Ministry spokesman in Lima said the rebels had been demanding
better prison conditions and more frequent family visits. President Alberto
Fujimori and Justice Minister Alberto Bustamante had visited the prison last
week to review conditions.
The Yanamayo prison is 12,700 feet above sea level in Puno, 525 miles
southeast of the capital Lima and near the Bolivian border.
New York native Lori Berenson was held there until being transferred in
1998 for health reasons. A military judge convicted Berenson, 30, of treason
in 1996 for helping lead a thwarted assault on Congress by the Tupac
Amaru Revolutionary Movement - another, less powerful, insurgent group.
Peru's war against leftist rebels has left 30,000 dead since 1980. Ramirez
Durand was considered the last top rebel leader still at large before he was
captured in July.
He is serving a life sentence at a naval base in Lima -- where the group's
founder, Abimael Guzman, also is imprisoned.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.