Shining Path Rebels Blow Up Another Telephone Tower

Remnants of Peru’s Shining Path rebels blew up a telephone tower in an isolated, coca-growing region in southeastern Peru, adding to a number of similar attacks during the past month.

Late Thursday, the rebels blew up a ClaroPeru-owned tower in Peru’s Huancavelica region Tayacaja province. Claro is the local operator of Mexican telecommunications company America Movil.

One Shining Path member was killed in the explosion, daily El Comercio reported.

Peru’s Armed Forces says the attack is an attempt by the Shining Path to keep people isolated in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys, strategically known as the VRAEM, effectively cutting off communications between police and military posts in the area.  The VRAEM is the home to the splinter group of the Shining Path, as well as large cultivations of coca leaves that are used to produce cocaine.  

The VRAEM is a dense, jungle-covered mountain zone that includes districts in Huancavelica, Cuzco, Ayacucho and Junin regions.

Political analysts are quick to point out that the Shining Path today is an armed group that uses guerrilla-type tactics for the sole purpose of drug trafficking or acting as protectors of drug trafficking operations, and that it has none of the Maoist ideology of the original rebel group that terrorized the Andean countryside and planted car-bombs in Lima between 1980 and 2000.

Last month, the Shining Path blew up a telephone tower owned by Spain’s Telefonica Movistar in Ayacucho and three other towers owned by Claro Peru in Huancavelica. The towers are part of the FITEL communications system that supplies mobile telephone service to rural and outlying areas.

Over the past year, rebels have also kidnapped energy workers and attacked an airstrip where they destroyed helicopters.

Peru’s government has pledged to increase its presence in the region in order to root out the Shining Path and provide development to local people.

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