1 Peruvian soldier, 5 rebels killed in military campaign
By Andrew Whalen, AP
October 11, 2008, 10:47 am TWN
LIMA, Peru -- Suspected Shining Path rebels killed a Peruvian soldier in a remote coca-producing region where the military is waging an offensive against a rebel stronghold, military officials said.
The soldier died Wednesday when his patrol was attacked in the Apurimac River valley, according to a statement from the joint armed forces command issued late Wednesday.
In early September, Peru's military began a campaign in the remote jungle region of Vizcatan, an important gateway to the Apurimac River valley for cocaine smugglers that is considered to be the last remaining Shining Path stronghold in the region. About 300 rebels are believed to be active there.
Fighting has left one soldier and five rebels dead, 18 soldiers injured, and has led to the arrest of 15 suspected rebels, the joint command said, adding that soldiers were not able to collect four of the rebel bodies.
Peruvian soldiers confiscated arms, explosives, stores of coca leaves and chemicals used in the production of cocaine at the camp.
Nearly 1,000 soldiers from Peru's three military branches are participating in the campaign, Juan Carlos Llosa Pazos, chief of information for the Joint Armed Forces Command, told the AP on Thursday.
The campaign has disrupted the flow of drugs out of the valley and forced a drop in the price that farmers receive for coca leaves, the military said.