LIMA - Peru's Shining Path early on Saturday released 36 gas pipeline workers it took hostage six days ago in a remote jungle region in southern Peru, the government said, saying security forces had clashed with the rebels.

The Defense Ministry said the rebels let the workers go before dawn after they were circled by 1,500 security agents and tried to flee, in a victory for Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who fought the group while in the army in the 1990s.

Officials said the hostages were safe and in good health.

Prime Minister Oscar Valdes told state news agency Andina that at least one security agent died during the rescue operation, while Canal N cable television station said three police and two rebels died in the clashes.

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