Peru decimates rebel leadership but war to go on

September 15, 1992|By New York Times News Service

LIMA, PERU — C LIMA, Peru -- Peruvian officials said yesterday that with the arrest Saturday of Abimael Guzman Reynoso and at least three other senior leaders of Shining Path, much of the rebel movement's upper echelon had been captured or killed in the last few months.

But experts on the Maoist guerrilla group said that other leaders remained at large and that there could be years of continued violence before Peru can declare the insurgency over.

To underscore the point, Shining Path members yesterday set off a bomb on the Pan American Highway north of Lima, wounding eight people. In another incident, three guerrillas shot and killed a police officer in a poor section of the city. Police and army officials warned repeatedly that the public should expect a wave of retaliation by the guerrillas.

At best, the experts said, the capture of Mr. Guzman, 57, and the others was a signal that Shining Path was not about to take over the country, and that the government had developed at least some of the counter-insurgency tools with which to win the 12-year war with the rebels.

The reaction of Lima residents suggested another obstacle to Shining Path. The mood in this capital city, which has been the focus of repeated bombings and assassinations by Shining Path for more than a year, was buoyant, with residents gathering in the streets to join in rousing choruses of the national anthem. Many of the revelers called for the death penalty for Mr. Guzman.

At a news conference yesterday, President Alberto K. Fujimori said that Mr. Guzman would be tried by a military tribunal on charges of treason and that he would probably be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Mr. Fujimori said the investigation and trial would take 45 days and that he would be in favor of the death penalty. In Peru, capital punishment is reserved for those found guilty of treason in a war with a foreign country.

Mr. Guzman now sits as prisoner No. 1509 in the National Anti-Terrorism Directorate. Captured with Mr. Guzman were 21 Shining Path members or sympathizers. One of three women arrested was Yanila Iparraguirre Revoredo, considered to be the No. 2 leader after Mr. Guzman.

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