LIMA – One police officer and three suspected Shining Path rebels were killed in a clash in the southern Peruvian region of Apurimac, authorities said Friday.
Another officer was wounded in the engagement, which took place Thursday night on a deserted road near the town of Huancarama, a police official in the area told Efe.
Doctors identified one of the dead rebels as “Comrade Gabriel,” the brother of Victor Quispe Palomino, reputed leader of the Shining Path elements operating in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, a region known as the VRAE.
Since 2008, 43 soldiers have died in ambushes staged by remnants of the Shining Path in the VRAE and central Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley, areas where the major cash crop is coca – the source of cocaine.
The fighting Thursday night broke out when Gabriel and five comrades were intercepted by police while driving toward the city of Puquio, La Republica newspaper said.
One soldier was wounded earlier Thursday when Shining Path fighters attacked an army base in the VRAE.
That attack came two days after snipers opened fire on a team eradicating coca leaf in the Upper Huallaga, killing three people.
A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Maoist-inspired 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 Shining Path remnants in the VRAE and the Upper Huallaga Valley are said to be allied with drug traffickers and have been repudiated by the rebel group’s jailed founder, Abimael Guzman, who says the armed struggle is over. EFE