PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD, JULY 31 -- Moslem rebels who have held dozens of hostages since Friday in a coup attempt released Prime Minister Arthur Robinson today but continued to hold about 40 others, including seven members of Robinson's cabinet.

Robinson, 63, suffering from at least one bullet wound in the leg, exhaustion and glaucoma that has gone untreated since he was taken captive Friday, was taken out of the Parliament building, put into a Red Cross ambulance at about 1:20 p.m. and taken to an army base before being transported to the hospital.

"The prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is now safe {and} in good spirits," said Attorney General Anthony Smart at a news conference. "We continue to pray for the safe return of all those who are still held hostage."

It was unclear whether Robinson remained head of the Trinidad and Tobago government.

He said in a telephone interview late Monday that he had agreed to the rebels' demand for his resignation, but government spokesmen have said that they will not be held to any commitments Robinson made while in captivity and wired to explosives by the rebels.

Asked if Robinson will head the government negotiating team, Smart responded: "The prime minister as you know is not well. I would hardly think he is in any condition."

Smart cautioned that negotiations with the radical black Moslem group, Jamaat Muslimeen, were "at a very delicate stage" but gave no indication that a settlement of the crisis was near.

An armed forces spokesman, Maj. David Williams, said the rebels, some of whom are thought to have received training in Libya, "seemed to know what they're doing. . . . They operate like a trained force."

The prime minister's release came on the fifth day of the crisis that has gripped this two-island Caribbean republic of 1.3 million people since Friday, when 120 armed rebels stormed Trinidad and Tobago Television headquarters and the Parliament building, seizing hostages.

The group's leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, accused Robinson's government of corruption and said it was responsible for the "continued destitution" of the republic. Trinidad and Tobago has been hit hard by a fall in the price of oil, its main export, and unemployment is above 20 percent.

A 6 p.m.-to-noon curfew continued to be in effect for most of the island today. During the six afternoon hours people were allowed on the streets, they combed markets in search of rice, flour, cooking oil and other staples that are in short supply after several days of looting. Scattered looting continued today, and the crackle of gunfire could be heard occasionally through the city.

Abu Bakr said in telephone interviews before Robinson's release that the prime minister was in deteriorating health. He told negotiators that Robinson was suffering from glaucoma and indicated the group's willingness to release him.

"We have a sick man, come and get him!" he said. "We don't want this man to suffer. We are humanitarians."

Abu Bakr, a 48-year-old former policeman, today invited Jesse Jackson and former president Jimmy Carter to intervene to resolve the crisis, Reuter reported. Jackson, in an interview with CNN television, indicated he would be willing to play a role in resolving the emergency. Reuter reported that a Carter spokeswoman in Atlanta said the former president was out of the country and likely to be unaware of Abu Bakr's request.

News services reported that Abu Bakr sought outside mediators because, he claimed, the government had refused further negotiations with him. But government spokesmen said "discussions" were continuing under the leadership of cabinet minister Winston Dookeran, who is deputy political leader of Robinson's party, the National Alliance for Recovery.

Abu Bakr also said that the rebels have not received any food. Government officials said they believed several dead bodies were inside the Parliament building, known as Red House.

After strong hints Monday afternoon that an agreement between the government and rebels was imminent, negotiations seemed to founder Monday evening.

There were signs today that among the obstacles was the reluctance of the country's 1,500-member armed forces to grant the rebels' demands for amnesty. Government sources have also said negotiations hit a snag over the rebels' insistence that they be allowed to keep their arms when they leave Red House and the television station.

"The military I know is specifically opposed to amnesty," said U.S. Ambassador Charles A. Gargano. However, he said, the armed forces would follow the lead of the civilian government.

A government spokesman, Gregory Shaw, said the rebels' demands shifted, making negotiations difficult. "Demands have been escalating from their side," he said. "Some of the demands are clearly impossible or difficult to meet."

Smart, the attorney general, said the government had "the situation under control" and had not asked for outside military help. A joint Caribbean task force of soldiers from Jamaica, Barbados and Dominica was reported to be standing by in Barbados, ready to assist the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force.

Gargano said the United States "hasn't been asked and we're not considering any military assistance at this time."

He said he did not expect that it would be necessary to evacuate the several thousand American residents and tourists on the islands. "We don't see the situation right now as one that requires {evacuation}. . . . This isn't a revolution-type situation, it's a hostage situation."

Gargano said the United States was preparing contingency plans to supply food. He said shortages of provisions could be acute by the time the crisis ends.