Peruvian security forces killed two leading members of the Shining Path rebels, President Ollanta Humala said in an interview with RPP radio.
The killing of Alejandro Borda Casafranca, alias Alipio, and Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino, alias Gabriel, could be an important blow to the Shining Path remnants in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valleys, known as the VRAEM.
The joint military-police operation has been praised by former Presidents Alan Garcia and Alejandro Toledo, and also by political analysts. The success of the operation, according to analyst Carlos Tapia, has been the use of intelligence rather than force, including the paying for information in an area dominated by drug trafficking profits.
The rebels were the top two in charge of the Shining Path’s military strategy. A third rebel who goes by the name of Alfonso was also killed by Peruvian security personnel. He was the right-hand man of Alipio, who joined the Shining Path in the early 1980s.
“I’m satisfied with this operation,” said President Humala. ” I congratulate and I believe that we all have to recognize the work of these brave soldiers and police.”
Humala said there will be a crisis within the Shining Path’s leadership following the deaths.
“These criminal terrorists are going to be left with people who they no longer trust absolutely. It is very difficult work under these conditions and in this geography,” said Humala.
Analysts point out, however, that the group led by Gabriel, and his brothers, still has some 400 men operating in five regions of the VRAEM valleys.
The Shining Path has been responsible for several high-profile attacks in recent years, including last year’s kidnapping of 40 natural gas workers. Gabriel took responsibility for that kidnapping, and the subsequent killing of 10 police and soldiers.
The Shining Path aimed to over throw the Peruvian state in the 1980s. The conflict, which intensified until the capture of Shining Path’s founding leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1992, resulted in 70,000 deaths, most of whom were rural indigenous residents caught in the middle of the Shining Path and the military.
The remnants in the VRAEM no longer follow the same ideology, and instead have played a big role in cocaine trafficking.