LIMA (Reuters) – Peru’s interim president said on Tuesday there will be “no impunity” for the authors of a massacre of 16 Peruvians in a jungle region known for cocaine production, which authorities attribute to a dissident faction of Shining Path rebels.
“We are doing all we can to deploy the police and the military in a way that we can efficiently combat this plague,” interim President Francisco Sagasti told reporters. “We know this is a rough terrain with many ravines that the narcoterrorists know very well.”
Peru in the 1980s and 1990s went through a conflict between Shining Path rebels who sought to overthrow the government and state forces, which led to the death of 69,000 Peruvians, according to official figures.
This century, the Shining Path has mostly retreated and a dissident faction of the original group is still active in a section of the Peruvian jungle where they go by a different name and, according to authorities, serve as bodyguards for drug traffickers.
The massacre happened in that jungle section, known as the Valle de los Rios Apurimac, Ene y Mantaro, where 75% of the nation’s cocaine is produced, according to official figures.
The attack took place two weeks before Peruvians are set to elect a new president, choosing between leftist Pedro Castillo, a school teacher, and right-wing Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed ex-president Alberto Fujimori.
Both candidates have condemned the attack.
Fujimori supporters have sought during the campaign to link Castillo to rebel groups sympathetic to the Shining Path.
“We beat them in other parts of the country many years ago, but (the Shining Path) continues in just one place and we hope to eradicate terrorism very soon with decisive action from the armed forces,” Sagasti said.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Editing by Alistair Bell)