At least 18 were killed, including 12 soldiers, when Sendero Luminoso guerillas ambushed a Peruvian army convoy late Oct. 9, military sources say. A child was among six civilians killed in the ambush on four trucks transporting troops and civilians to Cochabamba Grande base in Huancavelica region. Authorities said the convoy was passing through the Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE) in the area of Tintaypunco, Tayacaja province, when the guerillas detonated a roadside bomb and then strafed the stricken vehicles with machine-gun fire. Those troops not killed in the blast fought the guerillas for hours before they retreated back into the jungle in what was the deadliest clash between Sendero and the security forces in a decade.
In August, Peru’s army launched an offensive to uproot the Sendero Luminoso from its VRAE stronghold, a key coca-growing region. Authorities say coca proceeds have allowed the guerillas to rearm, buy new uniforms and start recruiting again. The 1,200 troops in the operation have discovered empty camps—and were accused of forcing families from their homes and disappearing peasants suspected of links to the guerillas. The guerillas involved in the ambush are believed to have have been pushed out of the neighboring zone of Vizcatán, Ayacucho region, the focus of the army’s August offensive, in which at least four soldiers were killed. Another solider was killed Oct. 9 in a confrontation with presumed guerillas in Mazangaro, Junín region, also in the VRAE. (AlJazeera, The Telegraph, RPP Noticias, Lima, Oct. 11; AP, Oct. 12; La Republica, Lima, Oct. 9)
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