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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 December 2006, 07:52 GMT
Peru leader seeks death penalty
Peruvian President Alan Garcia
President Garcia called for the elimination of the "leftover" rebels
Peruvian President Alan Garcia has urged Congress to back his proposal imposing the death penalty on those convicted of terrorism.

His call follows Saturday's attack in the coca-growing Ayacucho region, in which eight people were killed.

Police say they have arrested eight suspected members of the Shining Path guerrilla group, believed to have been involved in the attack.

Capital punishment has not been practiced in Peru since the 1970s.

In his address to lawmakers, President Garcia said Congress should "give the necessary tools to the judges and to the executive branch to definitely eliminate these leftover [Shining Path rebels]".

Mr Garcia said the rebels should be dealt with using "the most energetic and harshest sanction that the law... permits".

Currently the death penalty in Peru is only considered legal in cases of treason during times of war.

The penal code does not allow capital punishment for acts of terrorism.

Ambush

Mr Garcia's call came two days after five policemen and three civilians, including a boy, were killed in the attack in the mountainous jungle of Ayacucho region, about 330km (205 miles) south-east of the capital, Lima.

Initial reports put the death toll at seven.

Coca grower, Peru
Peru permits a certain amount of coca to be grown for traditional uses

It was a carefully planned ambush during a police crackdown on illegal cocoa-growing in the region, officials said.

The government responded to the attack by despatching more than 600 commandos who later arrested eight suspected members of the Shining Path group.

Weapons and ammunition were also seized, officials said.

State of emergency

The interior ministry has not blamed any group for the attack but remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla movement are known to operate in the region.

More than 20 police have been killed in ambushes in the last year.

The rebel group, which led one of Latin America's bloodiest insurgencies in the 1980s and 1990s, has claimed responsibility for similar attacks.

The government says it will prolong a state of emergency in various coca-growing regions of Peru, for a further two months.

Peru is the world's second largest cocaine producer and, despite state efforts to combat the illegal plantations, their output is increasing, the BBC's Dan Collyns in Lima says.


SEE ALSO
Seven die in coca ambush in Peru
18 Dec 06 |  Americas
Peru vows to smash 'drug rebels'
22 Dec 05 |  Americas
Peru to tolerate coca cultivation
22 Jun 05 |  Americas
Peru's coca growers demand help
19 Feb 04 |  Americas
Peru's coca struggle
29 Oct 03 |  Crossing Continents
Profile: Peru's Shining Path
05 Nov 04 |  Americas

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