A group of Shining Path rebels held a rally in a small town demanding the release of their captured leader, “Comrade Artemio,” according to reports.
Crime analyst Jaime Antezana told RPP that 30 guerrillas held the demonstration in Papaplaya, in San Martin province, San Martin region, in Peru’s northern Amazon. Antezana said “local sources” told him that the rebels, fully armed, rallied for 20 minutes to call for the release of Artemio, who was captured February 12.
The governor of San Martin province appeared to confirm Antezana’s report to RPP, stating that the guerrillas then left the area and went upriver towards another jungle town, Chazuta (see map, below).
However, the director of police in San Martin region denied that any such rally occurred and said that Antezana’s report was false.
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The alleged rally happened on the other side of San Martin region from where Artemio was found wounded in Tohache province. The area is a coca-producing zone which has served as a traditional base of operations for the rebel group.
The report raises questions over how the Shining Path are reacting to Artemio’s arrest. Artemio commanded the more political faction of the Shining Path, based in the Upper Huallaga region of northern Peru. If the group are still holding rallies, this suggests they have not been vanquished by the capture of their leader. Police have warned that alias “Comrade Jose,” leader of another faction based further south, which is more heavily involved in the drug trade, may try to move into Artemio’s territory.
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