LIMA – The death toll from the ambush of a military patrol earlier this weekend in the jungles of central Peru has risen to 10 – eight soldiers and two civilians – with five others wounded, while an attack in a nearby region wounded two people, the Armed Forces Joint Command said on Sunday.
The patrol from the 311th Counterinsurgency Battalion was attacked early Saturday by remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group as it traveled from Santo Domingo de Acobamba district to Matichacra, a town in Junin region, to provide security for Sunday’s general elections, the command said in a statement.
The death toll was originally put at four, but the bodies of six other patrol members were found later.
The Special Command for the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, or VRAEM, sent special patrol units and aircraft into the area after the attack in an effort to regain control of the region and “bring out the military personnel still there; said military operations are continuing,” the Armed Forces Joint Command said.
Armed Forces Joint Command chief Gen. Jorge Moscoso confirmed on Saturday that six soldiers were missing, and these were the six bodies found later on the weekend.
The wounded soldiers were initially treated at the Fort Pichari Medical Center and later airlifted to Lima, where they are listed in stable condition at the Central Military Hospital.
A second attack on Saturday targeted navy personnel assigned to the VRAEM Special Command as they operated on the Apurimac River near Quisto Valle, a town in Ayacucho region.
Two sailors were wounded in the attack staged by the Shining Path and taken to the Fort Pichari hospital, where they are listed in stable condition.
The Shining Path’s remnants operate in the rough terrain of the VRAEM, an area that has been under a continuous state of emergency due to its status as one of Peru’s largest illegal coca-growing regions.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.
Peru is holding general elections on Sunday, with 23 million voters eligible to cast ballots for a successor to President Ollanta Humala, two vice presidents, 130 members of Congress and 15 Andean Parliament representatives.