Peru Explores Passage for Rebels

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LIMA, Peru: Steadfastly unwilling to meet the twin rebel demands of freeing their countrymen and granting them political legitimacy, Peru's government is once again considering the possibility of simple deportation. Nestor Cerpa, leader of the rebels, rejected the option of trading the hostages for passage from Peru nearly two weeks ago. Nevertheless, cabinet chief Alberto Pandolfi said Thursday he had contacted other countries about accepting the rebels should they leave the country. He didn't say which countries had been contacted or whether the government would let the rebels leave Peru if the 74 remaining hostages are freed. But the option has clearly emerged as the only concession Peru is willing to make. Hours later, at about 2:40 a.m. on Friday, four shots were fired inside the compound, which Police Col. Juan Carlos Mejia said appeared to have been fired by two rebels in the yard of the ambassador's house. There were no explanations or reports of injury. Mejia said two rebels ran into the house after firing the shots. The rebels posted signs Thursday denying claims by President Fujimori that they were seeking ransom for Japanese executives who are among the hostages. "Mr. Fujimori, don't lie," read a sign posted in a window at the residence. "We're not interested in money. Demand is release of our prisoners." But the persistence of that demand has brought negotiations to a standstill. While Fujimori insists his government has maintained contact, its negotiator, Domingo Palermo, has not visited the compound in nearly two weeks. And Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani, instrumental in several releases, returned home Thursday to Ayacucho, 250 miles southeast of the capital. The waiting game continues.