Peru Police Grow Bolder

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LIMA, Peru: The relentless taunting of rebels by Peruvian police continues to edge toward conflagration. Five times Monday, as Peruvian war marches blared from speakers mounted high near the compound walls, black-bereted commandos staged elaborate maneuvers underneath. Armored personnel carried rolled by, and as always, all gun barrels were trained ominously on the residence. Japan's permission is needed for any attack on the compound. But Tokyo worries where the steadily intensifying displays will lead. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto had asked the Peruvian government "not to go too far. Not thinking of the hostages' mental state may have an adverse effect." But such words of pathos seemed to hold sway neither over the police nor the rebels inside, who once again warned police away with a spray of gunfire. A bullet hit one of the carriers, but no injuries were reported; the commandos, defiant, returned for another march a half-hour later. Rebels, still holding 72 hostages, accuse police of deliberately trying to provoke a fight as an excuse to storm the compound. Though Peru has reaffirmed that hostage safety remains their first concern, plans for negotiations continue to be frustrated. If a flare-up does occur, leaders on both sides may find their minions difficult to control.