The death of a 40-year-old pregnant woman in southeast Huancavelica was reported this past weekend as the casualty of a fire fight between security forces and Shining Path rebels. The military is now denying that the death was the result of military operations.
Online news site Prensa Libre said on May 24 that two other people were injured during the operations and transported to a nearby hospital. It also reported the military command as saying, “The Armed Forces lament the death of Martha Garcia Huaroc.” The woman was reportedly killed in her home, which was near the area where the confrontation took place.
“The incident occurred Friday when a military and police patrol confronted alleged members of the Shining Path in the area of Uchuy Sihuis, Tayacaja province, Huancavelica region,” the military said on May 24.
Since then, however, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces has issued a statement rejecting “some versions in the press” of the death as being “in the context of a confrontation” between law enforcement and terrorists.
“We regret that this happened and will continue to collaborate with the Judiciary to clarify the circumstances of this sad death,” the statement added.
Initial reports said that five alleged rebels were captured in the fire fight, while security forces also seized grenades and dynamite, and other weapons. The military has since issued photographs of helicopter damages by fire arms sustained when rescuing a woman and her young children from the rebels in Uchuy Sihuis
The area where the confrontation took place is part of a rugged jungle area straddling the valleys of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, known strategically as the VRAEM.
The VRAEM is Peru’s top coca growing region, and home to the last remaining Shining Path splinter group. Analysts say the remnants are closely aligned with the drug trade and share little of the Shining Path’s original Maoist doctrine.