Peru ministers resign over Shining Path rebel clashes


A rickshaw taxi drives past a graffiti reading "Freedom for Abimael Guzman" in a neighborhood in the south end of Lima on September 16, 2011. Abimael Guzman, 76, is the historic leader of the bloody Maoist group Shining Path and serves a life sentence for terrorism. Rebels reportedly from the Shining Path kidnapped at least a dozen gas workers on April 9, 2012.



Peru's Defense Minister Alberto Otárola and Interior Minister Daniel Lozada have resigned after public outcry over a failed security operation against Shining Path rebels.

Both ministers were criticized after 10 soldiers and police officers were killed in clashes with the rebels, reported the Los Angeles Times. Some blamed them for the deaths, which occurred during drug sweeps in a region known as VRAE, or Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, which is known for coca cultivation and the presence of Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso, rebels.

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According to BBC News, there was particular outrage after the father of one dead officer, Cesar Vilca, had to recover his son's body from the jungle.

"Recent events have led me to take this decision so that our government and the people can unite behind our security forces, to give them the support they need to defeat narco-terrorism," Otárola said to BBC.

Otárola and Lozada handed in their letters of resignation on Thursday, days after congressional representatives from four major political parties said they would support a motion of no confidence, reported Peru this Week.

The soldiers and police officers were ambushed in April while they were pursuing a sector of the guerrilla group that had kidnapped and then released 36 natural gas workers, said BBC. One policeman survived alone in the jungle for 17 days with a bullet wound in his leg before he was able to make his way to safety.

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