Peruvian Rebels Free Ambassador

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LIMA, Peru: Uruguay's ambassador was released by Marxist rebels in time for Christmas after his country provided the first concession of the hostage-taking, freeing two rebels jailed in Uruguay. The Christmas Eve release of Ambassador Tabare Bocalandro left six ambassadors among the 105 hostages still inside the Japanese ambassador's residence, seven days after the leftist rebels stormed the compound. The release came as Red Cross workers prepared to deliver Christmas Eve dinner to the remaining hostages, along with sacramental wine and communion wafers for a midnight Mass. The service was to be performed by a priest who has voluntarily stayed with the hostages, rejecting the rebels' offered release. The Tupac Amaru rebels have demanded the release of about 300 of their jailed comrades. President Alberto Fujimori has steadfastly refused to grant their demands. But Uruguay's release of Tupac Amaru guerrillas Luis Alberto Samaniego and Silvia Gora Rivera marked a key conciliatory gesture. Uruguay's Interior Minister Didier Opertti denied that his country freed the two rebels "to obtain the liberation of our ambassador, but this will undoubtedly make his situation easier." Uruguay also rejected a longstading request from Peru to extradite the two rebels.