Three soldiers, civilian killed in guerrilla attacks ahead of Peru elections
At least three soldiers and a civilian have been killed and seven others injured in two attacks by guerrillas in the jungles of central Peru ahead of elections.
Peruvian officials blamed the Saturday raids on remnants of the Shining Path communist guerrilla group, which was largely suppressed in a bloody war in the 1990s but still has elements hiding in the forests.
The three soldiers and a driver were killed as they were transporting troops to provide security for polling stations in the central region of Junin.
“Special forces and supporting aircraft were sent to take control of the area and remove the military personnel that still remain in place,” the country’s Joint Command of the Armed Forces said in a statement.
Following the raids, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala denounced the “insane violence,” adding, “Terrorism and those who collude with it have no place in our society or in our family.”
Meanwhile, head of the National Office of Electoral Processes, Mariano Cucho, said the raids “will not tarnish the elections.”
Nearly 23 million Peruvian citizens are eligible to cast their votes on Sunday for a new president and members of the congress.
Conservative presidential candidate, Keiko Fujimori, is leading the opinion polls. Her father, Alberto Fujimori, waged a fierce war against the Shining Path during his presidency from 1990 to 2000. The former president is now serving a 25-year sentence for killing civilians during the onslaught against the rebels.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Humala said, “Peru has lived through these violent periods and we are working to bring peace to the country. All these demented acts do is unite the Peruvian people more.”
Officials say remnants of the Shining Path have joined forces with drug gangs and operate in the remote mountains and jungles of central Peru. The country is considered as one of the main coca leaf and cocaine producers in the world.