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The BBC's James Reynolds in Lima
"The President's actions have been too much to bear for some in the military"
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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 22:26 GMT
Massive search for Peru rebels
Protestor holds up picture of rebel leader Ollanta Humala
The rebels' demands have struck a chord
The Peruvian army is continuing a large-scale search for a small group of soldiers who attempted an uprising against President Alberto Fujimori at the weekend.

The rebel soldiers, led by a lieutenant-colonel, Ollanta Humala, staged their revolt to demand Mr Fujimori's resignation and the arrest of his former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who returned to Peru last week after seeking asylum in Panama.

The army says Colonel Humala is only left with a handful of followers, after most of his original group of 50 deserted him.

This is about legitimising a right of Peruvians. I'll pay the price. I hope it doesn't come to bloodshed

Colonel Humala
But in a telephone interview with a Peruvian television station, the colonel said he enjoyed the support of fellow officers.

Correspondents say that even though the rebellion seems to be dying out, it has deepened the political crisis in Peru, provoked by Mr Montesinos's return from exile.


On Tuesday, several hundred troops combed the southern Andes for followers of Colonel Humala.

A Peruvian general and four civilians whom the rebels had taken hostage were reportedly rescued by special forces on Monday.

They were seized when soldiers led by General Humala briefly took the Toquepala copper mine and the mining town of Masocruz, about 1,100km (685 miles) south of Lima.

map of peru
The rebels then fled into the southern highlands, some 3,500 metres up (11,600ft), with their hostages.


BBC correspondent James Reynolds says that Humala's anger towards the president has struck a chord, especially among middle-ranking army officers.

And though there will be disappointment among some members of the opposition that the revolt failed to spread, some analysts say that it is a sign of increasing discontent in the middle ranks.

Opposition leaders have urged the armed forces not to use violence against the rebels if they are caught.

Key events
14/09: Publication of video showing Montesinos offering a bribe
16/09: President Fujimori says he will step down
23/09: Montesinos is sacked
24/09: Montesinos flees to Panama
23/10: Montesinos returns to Peru
President Fujimori has yet to speak publicly about the insurrection.

He has spent much of his time in recent days holding talks with defence officials but appeared briefly in public on Monday to swear in his new interior minister.


The United States has dismissed the revolt as an isolated incident, and said it believed President Fujimori was firmly in control.

Mr Montesinos, who has been implicated in a bribery scandal, has disappeared after returning to Peru from Panama.

The revolt came less than 24 hours after President Fujimori sacked his three armed forces commanders who were said to be close to Mr Montesinos.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Media reports
Peru rebel leader defends uprising
26 Oct 00 | Americas
Hunt for Peru spy chief
20 Sep 00 | Americas
US seeks 'real democracy' in Peru
27 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru halts spy investigation
23 Sep 00 | Americas
Peru to dismiss intelligence chief
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