LIMA: Two soldiers and a civilian were killed in an attack by guerrillas in the jungles of central Peru on Saturday, a day before the country’s presidential election, the government said.
Six other soldiers were injured in the attack, blamed on remnants of the Shining Path communist guerrilla group, which was largely crushed in the 1990s but still has members hiding in the jungle.
The two soldiers and a driver were killed as they traveled to take forces to guard voting stations in the central Junin region, army General Fernando Acosta said.
The guerrillas struck at a location called Hatun Asha, in a jungle zone considered a stronghold of the guerrillas and a major coca-producing area.
Marian Cucho, head of the National Electoral Process Office, which organizes the voting, said: “This attack will not tarnish the elections.”
Some 23 million Peruvians are called to vote on Sunday for a new president and members of congress.
Leading the polls is conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori, whose father Alberto Fujimori waged a fierce conflict against the Shining Path when he was president from 1990 to 2000.
Some 69,000 people were killed between 1980 and 2000 in the conflict with the Shining Path, according to the country’s Truth and Reconciliation commission.
“Peru has lived through these violent periods and we are working to bring peace to the country,” President Ollanta Humala told a news conference after the attack.
“All these demented acts do is unite the Peruvian people more.”
Authorities say remnants of the guerrilla group have joined forces with drug gangs and remain active in the remote mountains and jungles.
Peru is one of the biggest coca leaf and cocaine producers in the world, according to the United Nations and US authorities. AFP