Peruvian rebels kill thirteen soldiers

Monday, April 13, 2009

Location of the Ayacucho region within Peru

According to the defence minister of Peru, Flores Araoz, Shining Path rebels have killed thirteen soldiers in two ambushes in the southeast region of the country. The attacks were the deadliest by guerrillas in the past ten years.

The minister stated that rebels attacked a military patrol with explosives, killing eleven soldiers and a captain. Both attacks occurred 340 miles (547 km) from Peru's capital of Lima, in the Ayacucho region. Two other soldiers have been injured, and one is missing.

"The attack with dynamite and grenades took place Thursday, and victims included a captain, a junior officer and 11 soldiers," Araoz said, adding that "most of the soldiers plunged over a cliff." The minister said the attacks had happened on Thursday, but news was delayed for some time due to poor communications in the region.

Yehude Simon, the prime minister of Peru, denounced the rebels' attacks. "These actions are desperate responses by the Shining Path in the face of advances by the armed forces. I have no doubt that in the next years this zone will be free of leftover terrorists," he said.

The Shining Path tried to oust the Peruvian government and replace it with communist rule in the 1980s and 90s. They have been accused by authorities of being involved in the cocaine trade, and using money obtained from the profits to fund themselves.

The group returned again in 2008, starting a series of attacks and killing 25 police officers and soldiers in ambushes. The Peruvian army launched an "Operation Excellence" last year to remove three hundred of the guerrillas from the valleys around the Ene and Apurimac rivers, but have not had much success.