Peru Prepares Major Offensive Against Shining Path In VRAE – Report

President Ollanta Humala’s government is preparing a large-scale offensive against remnants of the Shining Path insurgency in the isolated coca-growing Apurimac and Ene river valleys, or VRAE, daily El Comercio reported, citing Reuters.

The report said the offensive is the biggest in almost two decades, and seeks to deliver a major blow to the Shining Path.

The initiative follows the kidnapping of 36 natural gas workers earlier this month in the province of La Convencion, in Cusco region. The Shining Path leader Martin Quispe Palomino, alias Gabriel, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

The workers were released six days after being snatched, allegedly after the Camisea gas contract companies paid a ransom.  However, and although the military and police operation was not directly involved in the release, a number of the law inforcement personnel were killed in operations aimed at rescuing the hostages. Quispe Palomino said the kidnapping was a ploy to attract police and soldiers into the VRAE where they would then be ambushed.  

An unnamed source in Peru’s military said that the government’s upcoming offensive is “all or nothing.”

The military has reportedly moved a number of indigenous communities out of the VRAE area, in order to prepare for the offensive.

“The balance for us is not favorable, there were deaths, injuries, a downed helicopter,” said the military source. “That’s why we’re preparing a strong military operation because there is very strong political pressure for results.”

The rugged jungle terrain makes the operation difficult, since the military and police have had very little presence in the area until now and the Shining Path columns led by the Quispe Palomino brothers know the area well. 

The VRAE is Peru’s biggest coca-growing region, and Peru is one of the world’s top cocaine producers, along with Colombia.

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