Latin America & Caribbean

Shining Path rebels 'kill two soldiers' in Peru jungle

Soldiers board a helicopter in the Ene-Apurimac valley
Image caption Soldiers are fighting "terrorism and trafficking", officers say

Shining Path rebels have killed two soldiers in a jungle region of Ayacucho province, Peru's military says.

Three other soldiers were injured in what was the second such attack in the area in recent weeks.

The Shining Path guerrilla group's power and impact have declined in the years since the arrest of its leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1992.

A military statement said the army would intensify the search for guerrillas in the region.

In a similar attack last month, the authorities say the rebels ambushed and killed five soldiers.

The Shining Path was a powerful organisation in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It fought to remove what it described as Peru's bourgeois democracy to replace it with a communist government, of Maoist inspiration.

The arrest of Abimael Guzman, in 1992, and a fierce campaign during the government of President Alberto Fujimori all but dismantled the organisation.

Drug dealers

Remnants of the Shining Path group are now said to operate in Peru's Ene-Apurimac valley, in the southeast of the country, alongside drug traffickers.

Image caption Abimael Guzman is now serving a life sentence

BBC Lima correspondent Dan Collyns says the Andean-Amazonian valley is a virtual drugs factory supplying Argentina, Brazil and Europe with high quality cocaine.

The area, known by its Spanish acronym as the VRAE, is also home to some of the Andean nation's poorest people.

President-elect Ollanta Humala - a left-wing politician who as an army officer battled the Shining Path - will face key decisions when he takes office on 28 July.

Mr Humala's election manifesto spoke of decriminalising coca farmers and even the low-level cocaine processors and smugglers.

Peruvian security expert Ruben Vargas says being too lenient with those involved in the drugs trade would be "naive".

Gen Luis Howell, chief of the Joint Command of the Peruvian Armed Forces, says they are combating "not just terrorism but also drug trafficking".

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