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Peru mediators: Attack was a surprise

LIMA, April 23 -- Three Peruvian hostage crisis mediators say they were taken by surprise by the military attack that ended the four- month hostage standoff at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima. One hostage died and 71 others were rescued in the Tuesday afternoon operation.

A statement by the three mediators -- Archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani, Canadian Ambassador Anthony Vincent and Red Cross delegate Michel Minnig -- said the end of the crisis 'was a surprise for us, conducted under the exclusive responsibility and authority of the Peruvian government.' Vincent, who read the statement in English, said, 'We share the sadness of those families and friends of those who lost their lives.' Hostage Supreme Court magistrate Carlos Giusti, two soldiers and all 14 rebels died in the rescue operation. Vincent said the mediators felt 'a profound sense of relief that the hostages and their families are now reunited in relief.' Speaking on his own account, Cipriani, considered a close confidante of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, said he regretted the deaths, including the deaths of the Tupac Amaru rebels. The archbishop broke down in tears as he said he would pray for their souls and for their relatives. The mediators took part in face-to-face talks between the government and the rebels and in the past month had been shuttling between the two sides to try and find a way mediate the standoff over the main rebel demand: the release of all their imprisoned rebel comrades. ---

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Copyright 1997 by United Press International. All rights reserved. ---

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