Amazon tribe in Peru frees hostages after negotiations

LIMA (Reuters) - An indigenous village in the Peruvian Amazon freed public officials it had been holding hostage to press for help after a ruptured pipeline spilled 1,000 barrels of crude on its lands, the state-owned energy company Petroperu said. Petroperu, which operates the pipeline, struck a deal with chiefs of the Wampis village of Mayuriaga that includes bringing electrical and telephone coverage to the community and helping develop local businesses, the company said in a statement. Mayuriaga villagers had seized a grounded military helicopter on Sunday and was holding its crew and officials of Petroperu and government agencies to demand inclusion in an emergency response plan. The spill in Mayuriaga on Feb. 3 followed a similar leak in Petroperu's pipeline that released 2,000 barrels near other indigenous communities. Environmental regulator said Petroperu did not maintain the 40-year-old pipeline properly and faced some $17 million in fines after oil polluted at least two Amazonian rivers. The pipeline transported between 5,000 and 6,000 barrels of oil per day before the spills halted operations. It mostly moved crude from block 192, operated by Pacific Exploration & Production Corp to Petroperu's Talara refinery. (Reporting By Mitra Taj; Editing by David Gregorio)