LIMA – Three children being held captive by the Shining Path guerrilla group were rescued over the weekend by the security forces in Peru, the Armed Forces Joint Command said.
A combined army and police patrol found a “terrorist camp” Sunday morning in Ranrapata, a community in the central Andean province of Huancayo, the command said in a statement.
Three children, ages 10 months, 4 and 8, were discovered at the camp and rescued.
Two “members of a suspected female terrorist unit, who were apparently in charge of caring for the children,” were arrested, the Armed Forces Joint Command said.
The patrol seized guerrilla propaganda, ammunition clips, solar panels and backpacks at the camp.
Prosecutors took part in the operation and are handling the case, the military command said.
The raid on the camp occurred two days after a soldier died when a helicopter was hit by gunfire over the jungles of the southern region of Cuzco.
President Ollanta Humala said last week that a Shining Path commander was killed in a firefight with the army and police in the jungles of the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region.
“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.
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.
The Shining Path, 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