Return of the Shining Path

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Terrorist group kidnaps 40 workers less than a week after Peru's President said it had been 'totally defeated'

Lima

Less than a week after President Ollanta Humala declared Peru's Shining Path rebel group "totally defeated", the terrorist group has reportedly demanded a $10m (£6.3m) ransom for the return of around 40 gas workers kidnapped in the Amazon.

A heavily-armed group burst into a hotel housing the workers in the remote town of Kepashiato in the early hours of Monday morning. They used two stolen pickup trucks to flee with their victims.The government has sent around 1,500 soldiers to the area and declared a state of emergency in the vast rainforest district of Echarate.

Peru's Ministry of Defence said the troops "will cordon off the zone with the objective of isolating the narco-terrorist criminals". But relatives of the victims – most of who were working for construction contractor Skanska – appealed to the government to avoid a shoot-out.

"The government or the company should reach an agreement [with the Shining Path]," said Vanessa Estrada, wife of one of the workers, Alberto Quispe Luza, 35, a crane operator who had been working for Skanska for less than six months. Speaking to the Peruvian newspaper La Republica, she added: "They shouldn't send soldiers because that could lead to a confrontation in which no one knows who will die. They should pay the $10m."

The Defence Minister, Alberto Otarola, is due to travel to Echarate and the head of Peru's police force, Raul Salazar, is already believed to be there.

There are also unofficial reports that the government has sent a unit of "sinchis", Peru's elite commando force, feared for its no-holds barred approach to fighting terrorists – to the area.

Kepashiato is now in a state of lock-down, with soldiers and police searching all vehicles passing through the town. Locals, meanwhile, were making the most of the quiet before the gathering storm of likely army action. "We are all scared because we are unprotected," one told the daily newspaper El Comercio. "At any moment there could a confrontation and deaths."

All eyes are now on President Humala, as pressure mounts over how he will handle the terrorists' latest outrage. A former army major who saw armed action against the Shining Path in the 1990s, he has previously vowed to crush the surviving remnants of the terrorist group once and for all.

The incident is the most serious involving Shining Path since 2003, when the group kidnapped 70 workers for Argentine oil firm Techint. They had also been working on the Camisea gas project, one of Peru's largest ever infrastructure projects, which is projected to provide the country with cheap gas for decades to come. The hostages were released unharmed within 24 hours after Techint privately negotiated with the terrorists.

Rather than represent a resurgence of activity by the Shining Path, the kidnapping of the Skanska workers appears to be a desperate response to the arrest in February of Florindo Eleuterio Flores, alias "Comrade Artemio".

Flores was Shining Path's most senior commander still at large from the group's murderous heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. He had been leading a small group of rebels as they continued to attack police and military patrols, occasionally even downing a helicopter, from their jungle hideout.

The days when the group effectively laid siege to Lima by detonating bombs in the city centre, are long gone, as is the revolutionary fervour that once marked the Shining Path and motivated its Khmer Rouge-style scorched earth tactics.

For most of the past decade, the Shining Path has been divided into two small groups operating in the remote cocaine hotspots of the Huallaga Valley and the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene Rivers (VRAE), where it charges the drugs cartels for protection.

Nevertheless, the group refuses to die and Victor Quispe Palomino, known as "Comrade Jose", who commands the VRAE faction, is said to have a fortune of $100m at his disposal to spend on arms including AK-47 machine guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

Timeline: Shining Path

Late 1960s Abimael Guzman, nicknamed Comrade Gonzalo, founds the group with the aim of imposing "new democracy" in Peru.

1980 Group launches its first military operation, burning ballot boxes.

1983 Slaughters 69 people, including 15 children, in Ayacucho. This marks the start of a new trend of killings.

July 1992 A huge bomb explodes in downtown Lima, killing 25 people.

September 1992 Guzman is captured and paraded in front of the world's media in a prison jumpsuit.

2012 Comrade Artemio, the group's leader, is captured after a shoot-out.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Life and Style
fashionOne man takes the hipster trend to the next level
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'