Humala: Gov’t Aiming For “Zero Cost” To Shining Path Kidnapping

President Ollanta Humala said Thursday that Peru’s security forces are looking to resolve the kidnapping of up to 40 natural gas workers by suspected Shining Path rebels with “zero cost” to the hostages.

“We are taking into account the life of the workers,” said Humala, according to daily El Comercio.

Humala’s comments were his first since the 36 to 40 workers were kidnapped early Monday in Kepashiato, a town located in the province of La Convencion in Cusco region.

Peru’s government declared a state-of-emergency in La Convencion on Wednesday and sent a combined military-police force of 1,500 troops to the dense jungle area.

The workers are employees of Swedish construction firm Skanska and another company called Construcciones Modulares, both working with 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—led by two Quispe Palomino brothers— is stronger, better armed and has the advantage of moving in much more difficult terrain.

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