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Peru arrests Shining Path rebel leader


The arrest comes less than a month after the capture of ‘Comrade Artemio’ who led a Maoist faction [Reuters]

Peruvian police have said they arrested a suspected leader of a Maoist faction of the Shining Path rebel movement who was the apparent successor to “Comrade Artemio,” who was captured last month.

National police director Raul Salazar told local media on Sunday that Walter Diaz Vega, also known as “Freddy” or “Percy,” was snared in the mountainous jungle region of Alto Huallaga.

Diaz Vega “was the successor of Artemio and responsible for organising an armed column in Alto Huallaga,” Salazar said.

“His capture took place on Saturday,” and Diaz Vega “had intended to annihilate the informants who infiltrated (the rebels) to allow the capture of Artemio in February.”

Diaz Vega will face multiple terrorism charges, Salazar added.

Comrade Artemio, whose real name is Florindo Eleuterio Flores, was captured on February 12 after a fierce gun battle against government forces in which he was wounded. He is to be tried on charges of terrorism and drug trafficking.

The 47-year-old Artemio led one of two splinter groups of the Maoist groups that was active between the 1980s and 1990s.

The Shining Path suffered a crippling blow when its founder and leader, Abimael Guzman, was captured in 1992. Authorities soon discovered other group leaders, and the remaining fighters fled into the jungle.

The survivors in turn split — the group headed by Artemio wanted to negotiate a surrender, while a rival group active in the Apurimac and Ene River valley area led by “Comrade Jose” wanted to fight on.

Some 70,000 people were killed between 1980 and 2000 as the government battled the Shining Path and a rival leftist guerrilla group, the Tupac Amaru movement, according to Peru’s independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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