Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Hostage team flies to Sierra Leone
The kidnappers are linked to the 1997 coup
Hostages freed by rebels in Sierra Leone have been telling of their ordeal as negotiators prepare to try to secure the release of other captives.
Instead, the rebels took them hostage at the rendezvous in the Okra Hills about 40 miles (64km) east of Freetown.
Among the released hostages were the Sierra Leonean Bishop of Makeni and UN spokeswoman Jacqueline Chenard and Reuters journalist Christo Johnson.
They said the rebels had a number of demands including the release of their leader, John Paul Koroma, who they say is being held captive in the capital, Freetown, and a role in the peace process.
Mr Johnson told the BBC: "[The rebels said to us] 'We just want the world to know our grievances and you will have to take these grievances to the government and the world'.
"They are very, very desperate. They want their man, Johnny Paul, to be released. They also want peace."
Negotiators fly in
The UK negotiators flying to Sierra Leone include officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and police.
Foreign Office minister Peter Hain said: "We take this incident very seriously and are acting with the utmost urgency."
Mr Hain refused to confirm that SAS elite troops were included in the team from London. But he said those involved had a range of skills, including military expertise.
They operate independently from the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF).
An RUP rebel spokesman, Alimamy Paolo Bangura, told the BBC that RUF leader Foday Sankoh had ordered the hostages' release.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has meanwhile announced it is scaling down its programme following the incident.
The kidnappings happened as the UN in New York was preparing to discuss what role the organisation should play in the country, now that a peace deal has been signed between President Tejan Kabbah's government and the RUF.