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Peru: Seven policemen are killed in an ambush in a coca-growing region


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Seven Peruvian police officers were killed Saturday while driving a 4×4 in a coca-growing valley in southern Peru, authorities said.

The attack took place in the province of La Convention, in the province of Cusco, in an area known by the acronym VRAEM (Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro, “valley of the rivers Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro”).

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Army forces have been involved there for decades in clashes with drug traffickers and remnant Shining Path rebels.

“We express our deep sorrow for the loss of our police brothers who were ambushed while driving a police vehicle in the city of Natividad in VRAEM,” where “seven policemen lost their lives and one survived,” Peruvian police said on Twitter.

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It is estimated that 75% of the cocaine exported from the country is produced in the valley.

The authorities did not explicitly say who they believe set up the ambush, however there are networks of drug traffickers operating in the area who they say are working with remaining rebels.

According to reports in the Peruvian press, the police officers were killed by bursts from long-range automatic rifles.

In August 2022, the military announced that it had seriously wounded Shining Path leader Victor Quispe Palomino, or “Comrade Jose,” during an operation against “terrorist camps.”

In January 2021, the military announced the death of the Second Class of the Shining Path, “comrade Raul”, one of the most wanted people in Peru, brother of “comrade Jose”.

Almost all Shining Path leaders have been either killed or imprisoned, but authorities say about 350 members of the Maoist rebel group continue to operate in mountainous areas, including 80 armed fighters.

The Shining Path—its name is part of a quote from the Marxist intellectual Jose Carlos Mariategui (1894-1930), founder of the Peruvian Socialist Party in 1928—has waged a decades-long guerrilla war against the military in the Latin American country. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the toll of this armed conflict was at least 69,000 dead and missing.


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