February 8, 2000
Peru rebel siege ends without concessions

                   YANAMAYO, Peru (Reuters) -- In a peaceful end to a three-day siege at
                   a jail in Peru's Andes, Maoist Shining Path rebel inmates released 24 police
                   hostages Tuesday without winning any of their demands, the government

                   Armed with knives and iron bars, about 50 rebels overpowered police
                   guards in a riot late Sunday, demanding authorities recognize them as
                   prisoners of war and demolish a harsh navy base jail near Lima where rebel
                   leaders are held.

                   "The uprising has been put down," Fujimori told reporters at Government
                   Palace in Lima. "Our firmness with terrorists is well known. This has been
                   another failed effort."

                   The siege gave President Alberto Fujimori, an unflinching opponent of the
                   guerrillas, his stiffest test from rebels since 1997 when he ordered an attack
                   that rescued 72 VIP captives at the Japanese ambassador's home and killed
                   all 14 guerrillas.

                   Fujimori, who runs for a third five-year term in April, is the clear voter
                   favorite mainly due to his victories against guerrillas. The successful
                   conclusion to the siege at this frigid prison in Yanamayo was likely to boost
                   him further.

                   On Sunday Shining Path rebels killed a comrade who had wanted to end the
                   hostage-taking that began after some rebels refused to return to their cells,
                   according to the government.

                   But Fujimori denied military sources' accounts reported throughout Peruvian
                   media that a policeman died in an initial clash. Seven policemen were
                   injured, he said.

                   At the Yanamayo prison, which holds more than 300 inmates from the
                   Shining Path and the smaller Cuban-inspired Tupac Amaru Revolutionary
                   Movement (MRTA), rebels hung a placard at one cell window announcing
                   that hostages were no longer being held.

                   Some of the 300 troops, who had surrounded the prison for a possible
                   rescue bid, began to withdraw from the compound, which lies 12,700 feet
                   above sea level on wind-swept wasteland.

                   Their retreat came after the military and a district attorney persuaded the
                   rebels to drop their demands.

                   "At no time do we negotiate with terrorists," Fujimori said.

                   For two decades Shining Path has inspired fear in this Andean nation's
                   population of 25 million and earned an international reputation for its
                   members' violence and commitment.

                   Wars to impose a communist state by Shining Path and the MRTA have
                   cost 30,000 lives since 1980.

                   But in recent years Fujimori's strategy has drastically cut the threat from
                   rebels, who almost brought the state to its knees in the early 1990s.

                   "This (siege) is the best propaganda for Fujimori -- I think it will help him
                   win an outright first round (election) victory," said Jhonny Morales, a
                   messenger at a law firm.

                    Copyright 2000 Reuters.