January 20, 1997 in Nation/World

Peruvian Rebel Leader Was Bus Fare Collector

Compiled From Wire Services

Authorities reportedly have identified a previously unknown leader of Tupac Amaru rebels still holding 73 men hostage in the Japanese ambassador’s home here.

Roli Rojas Fernandez was a bus fare collector before choosing armed revolt, Lima’s El Comercio reported Sunday. He is an aide to Tupac Amaru chief Nestor Cerpa, who led the Dec. 17 rebel raid on a diplomatic reception.

Efforts to free the remaining hostages have made little progress.

On Sunday, a Japanese hostage walked about 20 feet out of the house to remove two batteries from cars parked within the walled compound.

The government has cut off electricity to the residence, and the rebels might be searching for ways to operate radios and other equipment.

Sunday, a local radio station broadcast 1970s Japanese pop music in a show of solidarity with the hostages.

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