LIMA – At least two soldiers were wounded in an attack apparently mounted by Shining Path guerrillas Monday against a counterinsurgency base in central Peru’s Junin province, Canal N television reported.
The guerrillas opened fire around 3:30 a.m. on the Jose Olaya base in the strife-torn Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, known as the VRAE region, Canal N said.
A sergeant and a private were wounded in the attack, but the soldiers’ condition is not known.
The Shining Path has carried out attacks this month in Junin, which is in Peru’s central mountains, and in the neighboring province of Ayacucho, leaving five security forces members dead.
Last week, Shining Path guerrillas ambushed a military patrol in Junin, killing two soldiers, officials said.
The patrol was going through Pampas de Tayacaja, a town in San Antonio de Carrizales district, when it was attacked at 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday by suspected rebels who were moving through the VRAE region, Radio Programas del Peru, or RPP, and Canal N reported.
The Shining Path has a presence in both the Upper Huallaga Valley and the VRAE region, where it staged an attack Aug. 2 on a police special operations base in San Jose de Seque, a district in Ayacucho, that left three officers and two civilians dead.
The Upper Huallaga Valley is a center of coca cultivation and cocaine production.
The so-called “remnants” of the guerrilla group operate in both valleys, working with drug traffickers and staging attacks on the security forces.
Police captured suspected Shining Path commander Carlos Flores, also known as “Comrade Marcos,” and two other guerrillas in separate operations earlier this month in jungle areas in the San Martin and Junin regions.
The guerrilla commander told police he participated in the killings of five officers and a prosecutor in Tocache, and in the killings of eight police officers in the town of Angashyacu.
Police captured a man and a woman suspected of being Shining Path guerrillas in a separate operation in the VRAE region, where drug traffickers and remnants of the rebel group operate.
“Comrade Artemio,” the only remaining high-profile fugitive of the guerrilla group that terrorized Peru in the 1980s, called on the government last December for a “political solution” to end the armed conflict.
In May, the La Republica newspaper reported that Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, who is serving a life sentence for terrorism, called the remaining members of the guerrilla group operating in the VRAE region mercenaries.
“It’s a group of mercenaries who look out for their personal interests and not those of the people. They are simplistic, they do not know ideology. They have practically tossed Marxism-Leninism-Maoism into the trash can,” Guzman told National Police intelligence officers.
The remnants of the Shining Path did not comply with Guzman’s order more than a decade ago to end the armed struggle.
Guzman does not recognize the remaining fighters as Shining Path members.
The Maoist-inspired group launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi,
a small town in Ayacucho province.
A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.
The guerrilla group also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses, according to commission estimates.
Guzman, known to his fanatic followers as “President Gonzalo,” was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the “defeat” of the insurgency.
Guzman, who was a professor of philosophy at San Cristobal University before initiating his armed struggle in the Andean city of Ayacucho, once predicted that 1 million Peruvians would probably have to die in the ushering-in of the new state envisioned by Shining Path.
The group became notorious for some of its innovations, such as blowing apart with dynamite the bodies of community service workers its members killed, or hanging stray canines from lampposts as warnings to “capitalist dogs.” EFE