Troops dis­patched in Peru to cor­ral re­vived Shin­ing Path guer­ril­las

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Martin Arostegui

SANTA CRUZ, Bo­livia — Troops have been dis­patched to the cen­tral An­dean val­leys of Peru in re­cent weeks to counter re­newed guer­rilla ac­tiv­ity by re-equipped left­ist rebels oftheShin­ingPath,ac­cord­ing­to­high level gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

“We­havede­ployed1,500troop­sto makesurethatas­mall­groupofguer­ril­las­don’tmove­out­o­fa­jun­gle­zone,” Peru­vian Prime Min­is­ter Jorge del Castillo told The Wash­ing­ton Times. He­saidthein­sur­gentsare“trapped” andthathigh­ly­trained­spe­cial­forces are in the area.

Twenty-three mem­bers of the grouphave­beenar­rest­edsinceShin­ing Path re­sumed op­er­a­tions at the be­gin­ningoftheyear­with­aroad­ambush that killed eight po­lice of­fi­cers. In a video­tape re­leased at the end of last­month,ahood­edleaderus­ingthe pseudony­mofCo­man­dan­teArtemio said the group would re­sume largescale at­tacks in three months.

TheMaoist­move­ment,re­spon­si­ble for­morethan70,000deaths­duringa guer­rilla strug­gle in the 1980s, was largely dis­man­tled af­ter the cap­ture of its founder, Abi­mael Guz­man, in 1992.Guz­manan­dotherShin­ingPath lead­ers are serv­ing life sen­tences in prison.

Co­man­dante Artemio threat­ened to re­new at­tacks un­less the gov­ern­ment­grantedanamnesty­forim­pris­onedShin­ingPath­mem­bers—ade­mand that was promptly re­jected by Pres­i­dent Alan Gar­cia.

“We are ris­ing. We are start­ing to grow. We are work­ing clan­des­tinely for the fu­ture,” Co­man­dante Artemio said from his hide-out in the Alto Hual­laga Val­ley be­tween theAn­desMoun­tain­sandtheA­ma­zon Basin. The video showed a colum­no­fabout100in­sur­gentsarmed with AK-47 ri­fles.

Peru’sIn­te­ri­orMin­istryes­ti­mates Shin­ingPath’scur­rentstrength­at­be­tween 200 and 300 in­sur­gents. Intelligence of­fi­cers say the group has re­cently re­ceived new weapons as well as fresh uni­forms and boots.

Army spokes­men said traces of a guer­rilla camp were found near the spot where Co­man­dante Artemio taped his in­ter­view. Po­lice re­ported thear­resto­fahigh-lev­elShin­ingPath op­er­a­tiveinthe­n­ear­by­townofTingo Maria two weeks ago.

Shin­ingPath­pro­pa­gan­daac­tiv­i­ties have­been­tak­ing­placethrough­out­the cen­tral val­ley re­gion, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal in­hab­i­tants quoted in the Peru­vian­press.The­news­pa­perElCorreo re­ported that in­sur­gents have re­newed ef­forts to re­cruit young­sters and­col­lect­in­for­ma­tion­in­sev­er­alvil­lages where they have threat­ened to at­tack po­lice sta­tions.

Mr. Castillo in­sisted that the guer­ril­lasare­just“rem­nants”ofthemove­ment that once ter­ror­ized Peru. He said the Shin­ing Path does not pose a se­ri­ousthreat­tothe­gov­ern­men­tand that it has sur­vived mainly through nar­co­traf­fick­ing.

For­mer In­te­rior Min­is­ter Fer­nan­doRospigliosi­a­greed,say­ing:“We can fin­ish them off be­cause they are not­many.The­yareno­longer­fight­ing for po­lit­i­cal power be­cause it’s out of their reach and have ended up al­lied with nar­co­traf­fick­ing, which is what gives them money.”

Shin­ing Path pro­vides se­cu­rity for coca plan­ta­tions as well as co­caine pro­duc­tion and trans­port routes, ac­cord­ing to se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials in Peru, who say that the group charges a tax to nar­co­traf­fick­ers based on the vol­ume of drugs pro­duced.

Some an­a­lysts have warned that Shin­ingPath­could­be­copy­ing­tac­tics used by the Revo­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia, which grew into a ma­jor ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion con­trol­ling large swaths of Peru’s north­ern neigh­bor by pro­tect­ing nar­co­traf­fick­ers.

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