One soldier dead and three wounded during narcoterrorist ambush in VRAE

Suspected Shining Path guerrillas based in Peru’s remote Apurimac and Ene River Valleys, or VRAE, ambushed a patrol of soldiers on Monday, leaving one soldier dead and three others wounded.

According to daily El Comercio, the attack occurred in Pampa Hermosa, located in the province of Vitzcatán.

Though the nature of the injuries, the method of attack and the identity of the victims have yet to be released, Peru’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that the injured are currently being treated in the VRAE’s Pichari military base.

The Shining Path has been largely dormant since 2000. The once 10,000-strong Maoist rebel group nearly brought Peru’s government to its knees during the 1980s with car bombings, assassinations and brazen attacks on police and military outposts.

Although the group lost momentum following the 1992 capture of its founder Abimael Guzman – who is serving life in a naval prison – sporadic Shining Path attacks still claim lives every year.

The recent spike in deadly attacks is largely attributed to a fresh offensive by the Peruvian military, launched last August by Peru President Alan García.

The isolated VRAE is located at the confluent river borders separating the rural departments of Ayacucho, Cusco and Apurímac. The zone is a hotbed for drug traffickers and their hired guns — mostly remnants of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency — who regularly carry out deadly roadside ambushes against police and assassinate local officials in retaliation for raids on cocaine processing labs.

On Saturday, police seized 34 grenades destined for resale in the VRAE. Police believe the grenades were either smuggled into Peru via Ecuador or Bolivia, or stolen from a military base located somewhere between Huánuco and Ucayali.

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