BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS, JULY 29 -- Moslem rebels in Trinidad and Tobago continued to hold about 40 hostages today as religious leaders worked to mediate a negotiated solution to the coup attempt that has left an estimated 27 people dead and more than 100 injured, according to reports from the southern Caribbean island.

The rebels of the Jamaat Muslimeen, or People of Islam, said the government had agreed to their demand for full amnesty in return for freedom for the hostages, who include Prime Minister Arthur Robinson, the Barbados-based Caribbean News Agency (CANA) reported. But the news agency also reported that the government's amnesty concession was meeting with resistance from the armed forces, who vastly outnumber the radical Moslem group.

Other elements of a possible deal were reported by Jones Madeira, director of the government television station and himself a hostage, who said Robinson had agreed to resign and turn over power to "an interim government of major political parties" that would rule until new elections could be held in three months. Robinson won the 1986 parliamentary elections by a landslide and the next elections were not scheduled until 1991.

CANA reported that Robinson had signed a letter of resignation and that Deputy Prime Minister Winston Dookeran would head the interim government.

In an interview with CANA this morning, Moslem leader Yasin Abu Bakr said "some agreement has been signed" to end the two-day-old crisis, which began Friday night when rebels stormed the Parliament building and radio and television facilities. However, it appeared that a number of issues remained to be resolved, including the details of an amnesty or pardon and the government's insistence that the rebels lay down their arms.

National Security Minister Herbert Attwell, speaking on television, described as a "touch-and-go situation" talks with the rebels. "We are going to exhaust all reasonable options for a peaceful solution," he said, adding "I am in no position to give any hope {for an early solution}," Reuter reported.

Abu Bakr acknowledged reports of his ties to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, saying he had visited Libya and referring to Gadhafi as "our friend." But he denied reports that his group had demanded a plane to go to Libya and insisted that the violence in Trinidad and Tobago was an internecine affair that had to be solved by its people.

"We are all Trinidadians," he told CANA. "That's why we are here, that's why we were fighting in any case, because it's our country. There's nothing to do with Libya."

The Moslem group, which is thought to number between 250 and 500 black militants, has demanded Robinson's resignation and denounced what it says is racism, corruption and squandering of public funds by his government. Robinson also is black.

Abu Bakr said on television Friday that the coup attempt was intended to stop "poverty and the destruction" of Trinidad and Tobago.

The former British colony suffered serious economic decline in the 1980s as the world price for oil, its main export, plummeted. Unemployment is estimated at 22 percent and food prices have climbed about 25 percent in the last year.

On Saturday, Robinson was shot in the leg by one of the militants when he refused to sign a document presented to him by the rebels, according to witnesses, CANA reported. At least two other officials -- National Security Minister Selwyn Richardson and legislator Leo Des Vignes -- were also injured by gunshots, CANA reported. One of the hostages, Health Minister Emmanuel Husin, is a physician and was treating the prime minister and the other injured officials.

Robinson was being held with about 11 other legislators and cabinet ministers in the Parliament building, or Red House, in the capital city, Port of Spain. Another 26 to 28 hostages were being held at the headquarters of Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), CANA reported.

Although a cease-fire between the rebels and government forces was declared late Saturday, sporadic gunfire was heard in the streets of Port of Spain today. This morning, witnesses heard an exchange of gunfire followed by heavy artillery in the vicinity of Red House. Smoke billowed from the side of the old colonial structure, CANA reported.

The attack came as the Rev. Knolly Clarke, an Anglican priest, set off in an armored car for the TTT broadcast headquarters for further negotiations. Abu Bakr told CANA that Clarke was negotiating on behalf of the rebels. At least two other religious leaders, Roman Catholic Archbishop Anthony Pantin and Anglican Archbishop Clive Abdullah, were also involved in the talks, according to CANA.

There were some signs that tension in the capital was easing today. Piarco International Airport reopened after two days, although most international air carriers continued to cancel flights to the island.

However, looting and arson continued. Police Commissioner Leonard Taylor warned people against plundering, saying they were in danger of being hurt because of the unstable situation in the streets. One local businessman estimated that looting and damage already had cost more than $45 million. "Our aim is to prevent lawlessness," Taylor said. However, it was unclear whether the 1,500-member police force had the manpower to deal with the armed rebels as well as disorder in the streets.

Trinidad is about 45 percent east Indian and 40 percent black, and politics has long been defined largely along racial lines. Members of Abu Bakr's black Moslem group have had hostile relations with east Indian Moslems, who make up the majority of the nation's small Islamic community. The group was generally regarded as outside the political mainstream, physically isolated in a complex outside Port of Spain.

Reuter reported that some residents of the capital said the trigger for the coup attempt was a police raid last month on swamp land reclaimed by the Moslems. The group had built schools, a mosque and other buildings on the land, which the government said the group did not own and wanted them to vacate.