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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 01:29 GMT
Peru police 'kill leading rebel'
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Peru's Interior Minister Luis Alva Castro presents alleged Shining Path guerrillas arrested in the operation to the media, in Huanuco jungle, Peru, on Monday
Peru's interior minister presented those arrested to the media
The Peruvian government says police have killed an important leader of the still-active Shining Path guerrillas.

Epifanio Espiritu Acosta, who was second-in-command of one of the two remaining Shining Path groups, was killed in Aucayacu, in central Peru.

Another eight guerrillas were arrested in the operation, police said.

The move comes at a time of increased violence against the security forces by the remnants of the group, who are now involved in drug trafficking.

Peru is the world's second largest producer of cocaine.

The Peruvian police say there are two remaining groups of Shining Path guerrillas in the country's central jungle region, led by two leaders known as Artemio and Alipio.

Police 'close in'

The man killed in the police operation, Acosta - known as JL - was Artemio's second-in-command.

Peru's Interior Minister, Luis Alva Castro, said they are now "very close to Artemio [and] getting closer".

Peruvian police patrolling after the clash with guerrillas, in Huanuco jungle on Monday
Peru's rebels are heavily embroiled in the drugs trade

The Maoist Shining Path staged a bloody insurgency in the last two decades in which almost 70,000 people were killed in massacres, bomb attacks and state reprisals.

Now the group's leadership are either dead or in prison, and only a few hundred guerrillas remain.

But the last month has seen an increase in violence, with five police officers killed in two ambushes in coca-growing regions where the guerrillas protect drug traffickers.

The Peruvian government has demanded more resources to confront the renewed threat.

Meanwhile, Peru's cocaine production has grown by almost 10% in the last year.

SEE ALSO
Boom-time for Peru's coca growers
10 Sep 07 |  Americas
Peruvians march for death penalty
20 Jan 07 |  Americas
Peru slams ruling on rebel rights
10 Jan 07 |  Americas
Peru Shining Path head gets life
14 Oct 06 |  Americas
Peru bounty on Shining Path rebel
30 Apr 04 |  Americas
Profile: Peru's Shining Path
05 Nov 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
25 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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