RealNews

Hunt for Kidnappers

About 500 soldiers and police combed rugged, jungle-covered gorges yesterday in search of dozens of guerrillas a day after the rebels released 71 hostages seized at a pipeline construction camp high in the Peruvian Andes. “We are after these people in a pursuit that will be unceasing,” Defence Minister Aurelio Loret de Mola said. The Shining Path guerrillas freed the hostages on Tuesday near the village of Palma Pampa, some 400 km southeast of Lima in mountainous jungles on the eastern slope of the Andes. There was no confrontation with troops sent to the area. Several of those freed told local television and radio stations the rebels let them go and disappeared into the mountainous jungle after receiving a ransom payment. Representatives from the pipeline company and President Alejandro Toledo denied any ransom had been paid. Deputy Interior Minister Roberto Vásquez said that food and a satellite telephone had been dropped by helicopter to the rebels during negotiations. Vásquez said the hunt for the guerrillas was initially slowed while government forces accounted for the hostages. He said there were about 50 rebels and that half of them were armed. Police had said the kidnappers demanded a million dollar ransom as well as 20 radios, 500 boxes of explosives, vitamins and antibiotics. Full Story

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