LIMA – An army corporal died Wednesday in an attack on a military base in Peru’s Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region, the Armed Forces Joint Command said.
“Terrorist elements fired shots” around 9:23 a.m. at the Canayre Counterterrorism Base in Ayacucho region, the command said.
Cpl. Mayer Hostin Rios Pipa was killed in the attack, the Armed Forces Joint Command said.
Military personnel are searching for the attackers in the area, which is in southern Peru.
The Armed Forces Joint Command expressed its condolences to Rios’s family.
Both drug traffickers and remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group operate in the VRAE region.
“Comrade Freddy,” who took over the leadership of the Shining Path following the Feb. 12 arrest of rebel chief “Comrade Artemio,” was captured in the Huanuco region in March.
Walter Diaz, who called himself Comrade Freddy and was considered Comrade Artemio’s right-hand man, was captured in the Huallaga River region.
Comrade Artemio, who was identified by the government as Florindo Flores Hala, was captured in a jungle area in the Upper Huallaga Valley. He is being held at the Callao navy base and faces trial for terrorism and drug trafficking.
The Shining Path operates in the coca-growing VRAE region under Victor Quispe Palomino, known as “Comrade Jose.”
The rebels have joined forces with drug cartels and producers of illegal coca, the raw material for cocaine, officials say.
The government has made the elimination of the Shining Path’s remnants a priority.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising 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.
The guerrilla group, according to commission estimates, also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses.
Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, known to his fanatic followers as “President Gonzalo,” was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the “defeat” of the insurgency.
The guerrilla leader, who was a professor of philosophy at San Cristobal University before initiating his armed struggle in the Andean city of Ayacucho, once predicted that 1 million Peruvians would probably have to die in the ushering-in of the new state envisioned by Shining Path.
The group became notorious for some of its innovations, such as blowing apart with dynamite the bodies of community service workers its members killed, or hanging stray canines from lampposts as warnings to “capitalist dogs.” EFE