Police Tout Dismantling EPP Camp with Wooden Guns

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Authorities in Paraguay announced they had arrested 14 youths at a “training” camp for the leftist rebel group the Paraguayan People’s Army (Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo – EPP).

However, a report from Argentinean media outlet Infobae says that the supposed encampment appears to be run by amateurs, with no real access to weapons or military training.

The camp was found in a rural area outside of Asuncion, along with a Venezuelan flag, some books on Che Guevara, pamphlets on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and rifles carved out of wood used for shooting practice, according to Infobae.

The Paraguayan Communist Party denied any involvement with the group, which, according to Infoebae, may have included an individual expelled from the Party in 2004. One alleged group member told ABC that the camp was meant for “political indoctrination” and the fake rifles were completed during a woodcarving project.

Paraguayan Police likely touted the dismantling of the supposed “guerrilla” encampment in order to emphasize that they are stepping up actions after a bomb detonated outside a TV station in Asuncion on January 12. The EPP claimed responsibility for the bombing in a letter that said the press had become a “military target.” On January 15, a bomb exploded outside a police station in the small town of Horqueta. Neither attack resulted in injuries or deaths.

The EPP is believed to have links with the FARC stretching as far back as a decade. The group supposedly has no more than 100 members, making their income from the marijuana trade and from kidnapping.

Last year President Fernando Lugo announced a 30 day “state of emergency,” which was called to fight EPP forces and other drug and arm traffickers in the north. Hundreds of troops were deployed to the highlands but the Army returned to the capital without arresting a single prisoner from the elusive rebel group.

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