Armed group burns three helicopters in Peru
Lima: An armed group burned three helicopters belonging to a company that provides services to the Camisea gas consortium in Kiteni, a district in Peru's Cuzco region, but no one was hurt in the attack, authorities said.
The attack occurred around 12.30 a.m. Saturday at a remote air strip, the Armed Forces Joint Command said in a statement.
The Special Command for the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, or VRAEM, region in southern Peru has been ordered to "intensify operations and pursuit actions to capture these criminal terrorists", the command said.
The armed forces and National Police are battling the remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group in the VRAEM.
The guerrilla group torched the helicopters after it was forced to scrap plans to ambush a police patrol, media reports said.
The rebels may also have staged the attack because the company failed to pay protection money, media reports said.
The burning of the helicopters has affected energy operations in the area.
Operations in Kiteni have been halted due to the attack on the helicopters, threatening gas supplies, Transportadora de Gas del Peru, or TGP, which belongs to the Camisea consortium, said.
"The violent incidents that have been occurring for some months are preventing us from adequately maintaining the transportation system. This latest incident, in addition to leading to the total suspension of maintenance activities in the conflict zone, prevents us from responding to any emergency incident or situation that could affect the continuation of transportation," TGP said in a statement.
The Shining Path, which is led by the Quispe Palomino brothers, uses snipers to continually attack military bases in the VRAEM and ambush patrols.
The Shining Path operates in the coca-growing VRAEM region under Victor Quispe Palomino, known as "Comrade Jose".
The rebels have joined forces with drug cartels and producers of illegal coca, the raw material for cocaine, officials say.
The government has made the elimination of the Shining Path's remnants a priority.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.