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Hidden microphones made daring Peru rescue feasible

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Hidden in a chess piece, crutches and even a Bible, tiny microphones gave commandos who stormed the Japanese ambassador's mansion to free 72 hostages intimate knowledge of the hostage-takers' daily routine.

Periscopes allowed commandos to see into the compound's first floor, and a CIA spy plane with advanced technology was used to detect people and rebel-planted mines, according to Peruvian television reports.Some of the listening devices were displayed on television Sunday. They show clearly Peruvian authorities knew what was going on behind the thick walls of the diplomatic compound during the four-month standoff.

Seventy-one hostages were rescued in Tuesday's movie-like commando assault. One hostage, two soldiers and all 14 Tupac Amaru rebels were killed.

When 140 elite troops detonated explosives under a rebel soccer game and stormed into the compound from a network of tunnels, they knew all they needed about the whereabouts of the hostage-takers and their captives.

President Alberto Fujimori said the intelligence was so precise that he didn't waver "for a single minute" before giving the attack order.

A microphone hidden in crutches used by Eduardo Cruz, one of the Tupac Amaru leaders, gave authorities access to conversations in the first days after rebels stormed the compound during a Dec. 17 cocktail party.

Cruz was injured in the assault and requested the crutches, shown Sunday along with other items on the television news program, Con-trapunto.

Later, authorities smuggled in microphones in a thermos, a guitar, and the chess piece. They cut a small section out of a Bible requested by a military officer among the captives so he could communicate with police and soldiers - giving them important information leading up to the raid.

It is not clear who brought in the microphones. Red Cross workers, who regularly took food, clothing and other necessities into the residence, have denied knowingly bringing in microphones.

A Schweizer RG-8A spy plane owned by the Central Intelligence Agency flew over the diplomatic residence, pinpointed the location of people inside, and detected mines and booby traps around the compound, Contrapunto reported.

According to the news program, only eight of the small Schweizer planes exist - three owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, three by the CIA and one by Colombia and Mexico.