The Shining Path guerrilla group has been defeated and will no longer attack government forces, the group’s leader, ‘Comrade Artemio,’ said in an interview with local media released on Wednesday.
Artemio, whose real name is Jose Flores, heads the remnants of a group that terrorized Peruvians in the 1980s and 1990s.
The rebels were crushed in the 1990s under then-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, and survivors fled to the mountainous jungle regions on the eastern flanks of the Andes, where they worked as hired guns for drug runners raising coca, the source plant of cocaine.
A reporter with the prestigious online publication IDL--Reporteros asked Artemio if the war the Maoist rebel group began in 1980 ended in their defeat.
“Yes, that’s the truth. We are not going to deny that,” Artemio said.
The rebel leader also said there would be no future attacks from his group.
“That I can guarantee,” he said. “We have no intention at all of brandishing our weapons of war, of armed struggle. We want a political solution, to sit down and negotiate.”
Artemio, 47, said that he has had some contact with the government of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, but that there has been no agreement to demobilize the last Shining Path fighters, believed to be in the low hundreds.
In September, Shining Path guerrillas opened fire on a military helicopter that was picking up a special forces patrol in the Apurimac and Ene River valley, killing two army officers.
The Russian-built MI-17 was able to take off with the special forces team and land at a nearby town, the military said.
Some 70,000 people were killed between 1980 and 2000 as the Peruvian government crushed the Shining Path and a rival leftist guerrilla group, the Tupac Amaru movement, according to Peru’s independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission.