“The new hostages are soldiers captured by sympathisers of the Etnocacerista movement,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official said the new hostages had been seized after a curfew introduced by the government in the Andean city of Andahuaylas in the vicinity of a police station held by the rebels.

Earlier this week, a sharpshooter reportedly killed one rebel as government forces took up positions around the police station in the south of the country where renegade former soldiers held the hostages.

Authorities warned they were readying to storm the station held by a band of rebels thought to number about 150.

On Monday afternoon a sharpshooter shot and killed a member of the ultra-nationalist group, according to Antauro Humala, the leader of the ex-soldiers who seek the resignation of President Toledo.

Hospital officials said another four people were wounded by gunfire just as Humala returned to the station after brief talks with police chief Felix Murazzo.

Police also used teargas to disperse dozens of rebel supporters who sought to gain access to the city’s main square, which was blocked off by security forces.

Humala earlier backed down on a promise that the rebels would surrender their weapons earlier Monday. He claimed government troops had moved too close to the police station.

He insisted he was ready to move out, but said “the problem is troops keep moving in and sharpshooters are being deployed.” He told a Lima radio station this violated the surrender conditions.

The rebels seized the police station on Saturday. Four police officers were killed as more than 300 security forces tried to storm rebel positions on Sunday. A further seven police and three rebels were wounded on Sunday.

One policeman who hid in the station escaped Monday morning, according to local television.

President Toledo, who has a nationwide approval rating of only around 11 per cent, declared a regional state of emergency and said the government would act with “a firm hand” to quell the revolt.

“Those who have seized government buildings, who have killed and taken hostages – this, my government will not permit,” Mr Toledo said Sunday after visiting police wounded in the clashes.

Humala made headlines in October 2000, when his brother Ollanta Humala led a month-long military uprising against the government of then president Alberto Fujimori.

The brothers were briefly imprisoned, but pardoned after Fujimori left office and fled the country amid a corruption scandal in November that year.

Last week, Antauro Humala said his brother was en route to Peru to lead the uprising, but on Sunday he urged the rebels to negotiate with the government.

In Seoul, Saturday, where he had until recently served as military attache at the Peruvian embassy, Ollanta Humala issued a statement, cited on local radio, calling on Peruvians to “rise up” against Toledo’s government.

The rebels belong to the “Etnocacerista Movement,” named after Avelino Caceres, a hero of the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific who led a campaign of resistance against the Chilean occupation.

Most of the rebels are former soldiers who served in the 1995 war with Ecuador and the war with the Shining Path Maoist rebels in the 1980s and 1990s. They claim Toledo is corrupt and has sold out to foreign investors.

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