LIMA – A Shining Path guerrilla commander was killed in a firefight with the army and police in the jungles of Peru’s Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region, President Ollanta Humala said Wednesday.
“We have been able to confirm the death of the so-called Comrade Williams, the number four in the party organization of (Shining) Path in the VRAE, he was the number two military commander,” Humala told Radio Programas del Peru, or RPP.
The rebel commander died in a clash with the security forces around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday in Llochegua, an area in Huanta province, which is in the southern region of Ayacucho, the president said.
The guerrilla chief, who was born in the city of Huanta, had belonged to the Shining Path for 22 years and was “about 43 years old,” Humala said.
Comrade Williams staged attacks on military bases in the VRAE in recent years, including the 2009 attack on the Mazangaro base in Satipo province that left 14 soldiers dead.
“These are hard blows to the terrorist organization that is based in the VRAE, these latest operations by combined forces are precise, well-executed, in the sense that we manage to capture or kill important commanders, or we manage to recover children who they are in the process of brainwashing,” Humala said.
“This amounts to a break in the chain of command of the terrorists,” the president said, adding that the operations were continuing against the slain rebel’s unit.
The guerrilla group, which is led by the Quispe Palomino brothers, uses snipers to continually attack military bases in the VRAE and ambush patrols.
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