Two Peruvian soldiers were killed and another five wounded when they were ambushed on Thursday by suspected remnants of the Maoist guerilla Shining Path in a remote coca-growing valley, the Armed Forces reported.
“Unfortunately, as a result of the confrontation, Army NCO Gersson Cabrera and Police NCO Haddler José Lázaro lost their lives, while five other members of the patrol were injured,” said the Joint Command of the Armed Forces in a statement.
The patrol made up of soldiers and police officers was ambushed Thursday afternoon in a rugged area of Huanta province, in the southeastern Ayacucho region, where remnants of Sendero operate, according to the government.
The “personnel of the Armed Forces and the police were affected by the explosion of mines placed by terrorist criminals, where they had the confrontation,” says the statement, which doesn’t mention casualties in the attackers.
The area of the attack is part of the coca-growing valley formed by the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, known by its acronym VRAEM.
This valley has been under military surveillance since 2006, when the Peruvian government indicated that there were remnants of the Shining Path – considered a “terrorist” group in Peru – that operated in alliance with drug trafficking gangs.
On July 20, a soldier was killed in another confrontation with suspected guerrillas in Ayacucho, the region where Sendero carried out its first armed attack in 1980, which led to a bloody internal conflict that lasted for two decades.
Peru is, along Colombia and Bolivia, one of the world’s largest producers of coca leaf, a raw material for cocaine, according to the UN.