Leftist rebels in Peru will launch more attacks against the army, a commander of a remnant band of Shining Path guerrillas said after their 11th deadly ambush in rugged coca-growing regions this year.
“We will fight militarily those who defend imperialism and the government, and they are the armed forces and the police,” Victor Quispe Palomino, who identified himself by his rebel name, Comrade Jose, said in a call to a radio station.
His comments, which surfaced on Tuesday, came five days after suspected rebels killed 14 soldiers in two ambushes in Ayacucho Province, birthplace of the Maoist guerrilla group.
A series of clashes has ended several years of relative calm and though the size of the Shining Path has dwindled to about 300, it has bought more powerful weapons with profits from the drug trade in the world’s No. 2 cocaine producer.
At least 30 soldiers have died in fights with the group since August, when the government said it would try to take back control of the coca-rich Ene and Apurimac valleys.
The rebels have retaliated against the army’s forays by planting land mines, booby traps and ambushes to blow up military convoys.
The Shining Path waged a war against the state for years, but when its leaders were captured in the early 1990s holdout members of the group mostly abandoned their ideological fight and went into drug trafficking.
Critics say dozens of dead soldiers show President Alan Garcia’s plan to root out the rebels is flawed and the army cannot track the rebels in dense jungle.
“The Shining Path is using more and more fire power in each attack,” said Fernando Rospigliosi, a former interior minister. “The plan has not produced results and the government keeps on insisting on the wrong strategy.”
Garcia’s plan includes sending the army to capture rebels and employing government agencies to build schools and hospitals in towns that have missed out on a wave of foreign investment that has swept the Andean country.