Two soldiers, four Shining Path guerrillas dead after shootout in Huancavelica

Two soldiers and four suspected Shining Path guerrillas were killed in the highland department of Huancavelica early Wednesday morning after an operation to capture “Comrade Raúl” turned violent, said Defense Minister Rafael Rey.

“We don’t have the technology to allow us to maintain fluid communication,” said Rey, who added that the soldiers’ bodies had not been recovered. “The heavy rain is making air support very difficult.”

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.
Since the army started deploying more troops in the isolated Apurimac and Ene River Valleys, or VRAE, 38 soldiers have been killed in ambushes.

The 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.

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