ANDAHUAYLAS, Peru – The leader of an armed nationalist group that seized a remote Peruvian police station and took officers and soldiers hostage surrendered to authorities Tuesday, but about 125 of his followers remained barricaded inside with their captives, officials said.
Former army Maj. Antauro Humala (search) turned himself in to National Police chief Felix Murazzo at the town's municipal building before dawn Tuesday. His followers are believed responsible for ambushing police reinforcements as they crossed a bridge Sunday, killing four officers.
"He came with the idea of surrendering himself but a group of his followers weren't in agreement," an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said.
She said a report she provided hours earlier saying 90 of Humala's followers had also laid down their arms and were turning themselves in was inaccurate.
Humala's xenophobic fringe group, which wants to establish a nationalist indigenous movement modeled on the ancient Incan Empire, has demanded the resignation of President Alejandro Toledo (search), accusing him of selling out Peru to business interests in Chile, a historic rival. Humala and his brother led a failed military uprising against former President Alberto Fujimori (search) in 2000.
The extremist group opposes foreign investment and preaches a racist message against the European-descended elite that has ruled Peru for hundreds of years.
Toledo refused to step down, instead declaring a state of emergency and sending 1,000 troops to the region.
The standoff began Saturday when the gunmen, all of them apparently ex-soldiers, took over the police station in this Andean town, about 275 miles southeast of the capital, Lima. Ten police officers were taken hostage.
A day later, authorities said, the group ambushed a police vehicle in a different part of town, killing four officers and wounding several others. One gunman was fatally wounded in the attack, local media reported. One or two other group members were killed at the police station Monday by army sharpshooters.
Also Monday, the group captured at least four Peruvian soldiers and was holding them hostage along with the 10 police officers. Officials have not identified the other three hostages.
A rebel who said he was the group's new commander told Peruvian radio station Radioprogramas the remaining rebels wanted to negotiate a surrender but did not trust the government.
"We simply want to discuss the terms of laying down our arms, nothing more," he said. "Yesterday, two of our reservists were killed by army sharpshooters."
He said the International Committee of the Red Cross (search) was the only mediator the group could trust "to provide sufficient guarantees for us to leave here on our feet."
The government clearly was losing its patience. Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero demanded the holdouts lay down their arms and release the hostages.
"If this does not happen, it is the obligation of the government to re-establish order and it will with the combined force of the police and armed forces," he told reporters at the government palace Tuesday.
Humala surrendered hours after withdrawing an offer to lay down his arms, claiming the government had violated the terms of the deal.
Ferrero said Humala was trying to renegotiate terms of surrender for his followers and gave up without resistance when authorities rejected his conditions.
Humala enjoys strong local support. Thousands of residents converged on the town square Monday, demanding a peaceful settlement. Humala joined them during what he claimed was a three-hour truce agreed to by police.
However, shooting broke out on his return to the police station. Humala told Radioprogramas that government snipers opened fire, killing one of his men and wounding another. Humala claimed a young resident of the town was also killed. He said his men captured some of the sharpshooters.
Humala is the brother of Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala, who recently was forced to retire from his post as a military attache at the Peruvian Embassy in South Korea.
In October 2000, the Humala brothers led 50 followers in a short-lived military uprising, a month before the collapse of Fujimori's corruption-ridden, 10-year regime.
The revolt failed to spark the wider rebellion the brothers had hoped for. The Humala brothers and their followers were granted amnesty in December 2000 by Peru's Congress.
Ollanta Humala was transferred for overseas duty, while Antauro Humala forged a small, but vocal, political movement with an extremist message.