A Peruvian soldier and five members of the former Shining Path guerrillas, who were defeated militarily in the 1990s, were killed in a clash in a Peruvian coca-growing valley, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday. A soldier was killed in the same area on Tuesday. In early February, seven police officers were killed in an ambush.
The armed clash, the date of which was not given in the press release from the Joint Command of the Armed Forces, occurred in the district of Vizcatan del Ene (centre) during an operation to arrest the leader of the remaining far-left guerrillas. Victor Quispe Palomino, aka Comrade José, was not arrested, but other officials were killed or captured, the statement said.
In the land of coca
The Vizcatan del Ene district of Junin department is part of a vast coca-growing area known as VRAEM, an acronym for the valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, where the army has been fighting gangs of drug traffickers and the last Maoist guerrilla militants for decades . According to the United Nations, Peru is one of the world’s largest producers of coca leaf and cocaine.
The Shining Path, which sparked an armed insurgency in 1980, has clashed with armed forces for decades in a conflict that has left 69,000 dead and missing, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Almost all of the guerrilla leaders are dead or imprisoned, but the Army estimates that around 200 to 350 ex-combatants are still active in the VRAEM.