Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Peruvian Shining Path Rebels Killed

Two senior members of Peru’s Shining Path guerillas were reportedly killed in a military operation carried out late Sunday night.

Alejandro Borda Casafranca, who was the rebels’ second-in-command and nicknamed "Comrade Alipio", and Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino ("Comrade Gabriel") were slain along with at lest one other suspected rebel in the Ayacucho region according to President Ollanta Humala.

"Intelligence sources that took part in this operation confirm ... they would be the number one and number two in control of Shining Path's military structure," Humala said on television on Monday morning.

Authorities are performing autopsies to confirm identities though armed forces chief Adm. Jose Cueto claimed "(Comrade) Alipio for certain. Still to be determined is (Comrade) Gabriel but it is nearly certain that it is him as well."

At its peak in the 1980s when the group seriously threatened the Peruvian state with terrorist activities in the capital city of Lima, massacres of hundreds of rural residents and the disappearances of thousands of people.  Since the capture of then-rebel leader and cult figure Abimael Guzman in 1992, however, the Shining Path has become severely debilitated militarily and politically.  One of the most recent blows against the guerillas was the capture in February of 2012 of their chief, “Comrade Artemio,” who was subsequently convicted on charges of terrorism and drug trafficking.

While the Shining Path may be a shell of what it one was some three decades ago, the rebels have not been completely defeated and they continue battling against the Peruvian military.  In April 2012, a group led by Borda and Quispe briefly kidnapped and then released thirty-six workers on the Camisea gas pipeline.  The rebels have also allied themselves to illegal drug trade and finances itself by growing and smuggling coca out of the Apurimac and Ene river valley region (VREAM).

With Peru possibly leapfrogging Colombia as the world’s top coca grower, there are worries that that the Shining Path could attempt a resurgence.  Yet the possibility of a sustainable comeback by the rebels may be slim as a result of the detention or killing of some of the group’s top commanders under the Humala regime.

“It will not be easy to replace (Alipio and Gabriel) but there are figures that will take care of the operational and military parts they ran,” said journalist and security expert Rubén Vargas to the Peruvian press.  “But their deaths represent a blow to the terrorists’ organizational structure…especially in the VREAM area,” added Vargas.

Online Source - YouTube via user Willax Televisión

Online Sources – InSight Crime; El Comercio; BBC News; Reuters; Miami Herald; Washington Post

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