19 killed as rebels ambush soldiers in Peru

October 11th, 2008 - 2:54 am ICT by IANS  

Lima, Oct 11 (IANS) At least 19 people, including 12 soldiers, were killed when suspected Shining Path rebels ambushed a military convoy in a remote coca-growing region of southeastern Peru, authorities said Friday.The attack took place Thursday afternoon near Tintaypunco in the province of Huancavelica, the armed forces said in a statement.

“Narcoterrorist criminals of Shining Path” were behind the assault on the convoy of four trucks, one of which had civilians aboard, the military said.

The alleged rebels detonated explosives as the vehicles passed by. A shootout followed that lasted several hours, the armed forces said in a statement.

A further 11 soldiers and an unspecified number of civilians were injured, while several soldiers and some weapons remained missing.

Before the ambush, the military said five alleged rebels and one soldier had died in clashes, which also left 18 soldiers injured.

Since August, the Peruvian military has engaged in a broad anti-rebel operation in the VRAE region, comprising the provinces of Junin, Ayacucho and Cusco, where there is also a strong presence of drug traffickers.

Remnants of Shining Path are present in some jungle and Andean areas of Peru.

Troops have captured several rebel camps, destroyed drug production facilities and detonated landmines during the campaign against the guerrillas.

The peasant insurgency led by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) rocked Peru in the 1980s. And a truth commission appointed by former president Alejandro Toledo blamed Sendero 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.

Peruvian authorities say Shining Path holdouts in the VRAE and other remote regions support themselves by providing protection and muscle for drug traffickers.

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