Rebels accused of park deaths

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The Independent US

Suspected Shining Path guerrillas have killed three park rangers and a rancher and robbed passenger buses and cargo trucks in a four-day spree of violence in Peru's central highlands, authorities said today.

Suspected Shining Path guerrillas have killed three park rangers and a rancher and robbed passenger buses and cargo trucks in a four-day spree of violence in Peru's central highlands, authorities said today.

In the most recent incident, three park rangers were shot and robbed of their shotguns on Tuesday by masked assailants in a reserve for vicuna, a small non-domesticated relative of the llama, about 273 miles southeast of the capital Lima.

On Monday, five masked intruders broke into the home of a rancher in a nearby village and shot him in front of his family.

A spokeswoman for the prefect of Ayacucho, the highland department where the killings occurred, said all the victims had their hands bound and each received a bullet to the head.

She called the method of killing "a typical trademark of Shining Path terrorists".

The Maoist rebel group in the late 1980s and early 1990s almost brought the Peruvian government to its knees, assassinating mayors and informers in the countryside and waging a vicious car-bombing campaign in Lima.

The group's power was diminished with the capture of several high level leaders. But remnants of the rebel force are still active in the country's central highlands and jungle.

Fighting has left 30,000 dead since 1980, including soldiers, rebels and civilians.

Government officials said rebels had stopped several passenger buses and trucks between Saturday and Tuesday, robbing the occupants of food and cash.

In one case, passengers of a minibus overpowered two of their assailants and delivered them to authorities, the spokeswoman said.

About 60 guerillas last week looted the village of Pucamarca, 217 miles southeast of Lima, and warned the population not to participate in April's presidential elections.

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