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Leaders of Fiji coup release 10 captives

Rebels holding Fiji's elected government released 10 hostages Sunday after they signed documents backing an attempted coup leader, local radio reported.

"We had to sign the conditions, it was a condition of our release," said John Ali, one of the government members released.

Fiji's Radio 96 reported that 10 members of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry's government were released in two groups by the rebels led by businessman George Speight. About 50 people were captured in Friday's uprising, which Speight said was on behalf of indigenous Fijians against a government led by Fijians of Indian origin.

Chaudhry, who was not one of those released, earlier collapsed inside the Parliament House complex. Local media reported that Chaudhry's collapse was stress-related, and that he later recovered and was resting. Speight told local reporters inside parliament that a doctor would be allowed to see Chaudhry later Sunday.

The coup attempt appeared headed for failure Saturday as military, police and influential Fijian leaders lined up behind Chaudhry's democratically elected government and the president.

"It's an action myself and my group are willing to risk our lives for," said Speight, barefoot and dressed in a traditional sulu skirt, talking through the gate to international media for the first time Saturday night.

Speight said he had appointed a new president using executive powers assumed in the coup.

U.S. Embassy in Eritrea readies first evacuation

ASMARA, Eritrea _ The United States set in motion a partial evacuation of its embassy here Saturday _ a move that some feared could be the start of a general foreign pullout from Eritrea's anxious capital as troops from neighboring Ethiopia advance on the city.

Ethiopia, pushing to end its 2-year-old border war with Eritrea, claimed to have moved within 60 miles of Asmara.

The United States chartered a plane expected to arrive today for the State Department-ordered evacuation of nonessential embassy staff and their dependents. Officials encouraged private American citizens to take the plane.

Elsewhere

RUSSIAN BOMBING: Police arrested a suspect Saturday in an apartment bombing that killed 64 people in the republic of Dagestan last year, the first of a series of attacks across Russia that helped bring about the war in Chechnya. An Interior Ministry official in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala said that Isa Zainutdinov, 62, admitted that he drove a truckload of explosives to the apartment block, but claimed that he was unaware of its intended use.

MASSACRE REPORT: Congolese rebels massacred more than 300 people in a village in eastern Congo, a Rome-based missionary news agency said Saturday. Rebels denied the allegation. There was no independent confirmation.

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