LIMA – The number of gas company contractors held hostage in a jungle area of southeastern Peru is 43, not seven, as officials said earlier, an Interior Ministry source told Efe on Wednesday.
“Initially there were 45 captives and the only ones freed have been a doctor and a nurse who could not advance through the jungle. To them, they (the captors) gave the notes with their demands,” the source said.
The armed group that seized the workers is demanding $10 million for their release and an additional $1.2 million a year as a “war fee,” Correo newspaper said, posting a copy of the handwritten ransom note on its Web page.
The mass abduction took place in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region, where both drug traffickers and the remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group operate.
All the hostages are employees of Coga and Skanska, which are contractors on the massive Camisea natural gas project.
Nine of the workers were captured at a camp, while the rest were seized in the town of Kepashiato, the Interior Ministry source said.
The two closest police posts are in Quillabamba, eight hours away by road, and Pichari, a 12-hour journey from Kepashiato.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its revolt on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.
A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the 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.
Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the “defeat” of the insurgency, but isolated remnants of the group fight on. EFE