Rebels Take Guards in Peru Riot
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.
The Shining Path had as many as 10,000 armed fighters in the early 1990s, but is now believed to have fewer than 1,000 combatants.