Gunmen ambush Peru police on remote Andean road

Peru police have begun a search for gunmen who ambushed a police patrol this morning. About 20 to 30 people armed with grenades and machine guns ambushed the patrol in Huanta province, in Ayacucho Department, killing officers Alberto Quispe Argumedo and Julio César Solano Cipriano and injuring officer Elías Pahuacho Córdova.

The director of the National Police, David Rodríguez, told Agencia Andina the ambush occurred when officers stopped a truck about three miles from the town of Luricocha.

According to CNR radio, the truck was traveling to the town of Huanta from the Apurímac and Ene river valleys, VRAE, where the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates some 30 percent of Peru’s coca is cultivated, the raw material used to make cocaine.

“We know that it is an area where drug trafficking is being fought,” said Rodríguez. “The investigations will have to advance before we know if they were traffickers or common criminals.”

This is the third attack on police in less than two months. About 70 to 80 guerrillas brazenly attacked a remote police outpost in Apurímac department in early November, killing one police officer. Two weeks later, four more officers were killed in an ambush in Huancavelica department. Both attacks were attributed to remnants of the Shining Path insurgency now employed by drug traffickers.

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