Leader of Shining Path faction admits defeat

"Comrade Artemio", who leads one wing of splintered group, admits Maoists have lost their war against Peru's government.

    About 70,000 people were killed from 1980 to 2000 in a war between the Shining Path and Peru's government [Reuters]

    One of two remaining leaders of the Shining Path rebel group in Peru said that his troops will cease attacks and is calling for a truce to start peace negotiations with the government.

    Known as Comrade Artemio, Jose Flores Hala told journalists last week in his jungle hideout that he "isn't going to deny" that the government won in its war against the Maoist rebels, Peruvian media reported on Wednesday.

    Flores, however, couldn't speak for another Shining Path leader, known only as Comrade Jose, who has not declared a truce.

    Flores is based in the Huallaga Valley in central Peru, a centre of coca production, while Comrade Jose is in the Apurimac-Ene river valley in the country's southeast, where coca production is also rampant.

    Flores said his roughly 150 guerrillas would not demobilise without a "process of frank and real negotiations". But, he told reporters, "We have no intention to brandish arms of war in armed struggle".

    The Shining Path has shrunk since its heyday in the 1980s when it controlled large areas of the Peruvian countryside.

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

    Government troops captured leader Abimael Guzman in 1992 and his successor Comrade Feliciano in 1999. The group has since split into the two factions.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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