Confident police crack down on Shining Path

THE Peruvian government claimed another resounding success against the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) organisation with the arrest over the weekend of eight leading members of the party. Among them was Marta Huatay, a lawyer reputed to be a key figure on the central committee.

Since the arrest on 12 September of Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of Shining Path, the security forces have been carrying out a vigorous mopping-up operation which has netted hundreds of alleged members of the party hierarchy.

Raids in Lima and elsewhere have yielded computer disks containing hundreds of names, providing a rich vein to be mined by the increasingly confident anti- terrorist police (Dincote). The commander of Dincote, General Antonio Vidal, has become a folk hero overnight.

Ms Huatay was allegedly held while conducting a meeting in a middle-class suburb of Lima to reorganise the party leadership. Among the others captured, according to Dincote, was the Shining Path co-ordinator for the northern section of Lima, who was thought to be responsible for a series of devastating car bombs and shootings in the wake of Guzman's arrest.

Ms Huatay is a member of the Association of Democratic Lawyers, founded to defend human rights cases arising from the 'dirty war' conducted by the armed forces since Shining Path launched its armed campaign in 1980.

The authorities claim that it was subsequently infiltrated by Shining Path, and several of its members have been arrested over the past few months. It is now headed by Alfredo Crespo, who was Abimael Guzman's defence lawyer in the summary trial that ended earlier this month with a sentence of life imprisonment for ther 57-year-old former philosophy professor.

If official claims are correct - and Shining Path angrily denies that the lawyers have anything to do with the party - then the guerrillas have suffered a succession of heavy blows since Guzman was captured.

Also sentenced to life imprisonment are nine leading figures in the party, including Guzman's deputy (and mistress), Elena Iparraguirre, and the national co- ordinator, Walter Vasquez. They are divided between an island naval base near Lima and military bases in Arequipa and Puno, in southern Peru. All are being held in rigorous solitary confinement.

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