Report: Shining Path Seeks $10 Million Ransom For Kidnapped Workers

Shining Path rebels, suspected of kidnapping natural gas workers on Monday, have reportedly demanded a $10 million ransom, explosives, and clothes in exchange for the hostages, daily El Comercio reported.

The workers —between 36 and 40— were kidnapped early Monday morning in Kepashiato, a town located in the province of La Convencion in Cusco region.

Peru’s government has maintained military-like silence about the incident. On Monday, the Interior Ministry confirmed the kidnapping of the workers and that it was taking actions to rescue them, however it did not provide further information.

According to local news reports, a combined military-police force of 1,500 troops has been sent to the dense jungle area.  

Newspaper El Comercio said that the police have sent 400 soldiers and 200 police officers have been sent to the zone.

Early reports said that 10 to 20 people had been taken hostage. That figure increased to 30 workers and on Tuesday local media was reporting that there are about 40 workers kidnapped. It is unclear how many workers have been released. The workers are employees of Skanska and other firms that make up the Camisea Gas Consortium.

The incident was the first major kidnapping by the Shining Path remnants since 2003, when they took some 70 workers from a Argentine company working in the natural gas industry.

The Shining Path waged a bloody war against the state in the 1980s and early 1990s, however it was largely defeated with the capture of its founding leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1992.

Splinter groups still operate today, although they share almost none of the group’s original ideology. Instead, they work closely with drug traffickers by providing security, and are known to also be involved in growing coca and producing cocaine. 

The Shining Path group in the Upper Huallaga, in the northeast jungle of San Martin, have been effectively dismantled with the arrest earlier this year of Comrade Artemio and more recent arrests of two smaller leaders, but the group in the VRAE area is stronger, better armed and has the advantage of moving in much more difficult terrain.

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