Clashes broke out between Peruvian soldiers and “narcoterrorists” believed to belong to the Shining Path armed group (Sendero Luminoso) in the VRAEM region on Thursday, August 9. The incident occurred in the Virgen de Ccasa area of Canayre district (Huanta province; Ayacucho region) on the fourth day of a counterterrorist operation being carried out in the area. One soldier was killed. The Peruvian armed forces are expected to continue their operations in the area; as such, further clashes and attacks are likely in the coming weeks.
The VRAEM region - made up of parts of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Cusco, and Junín - is currently under a state of emergency set to continue until at least October due to poor security conditions and the presence of armed groups. The region was largely ignored by the Peruvian government until 2006, allowing criminal groups to thrive and poverty rates to remain extremely high. Joint police and army patrols are now regularly carried out in the area. According to the UN, one-third of the cocaine produced worldwide comes from this area, totaling up to 400 tons per year.
The Shining Path remains Peru's largest armed group, although its level of activity has fallen sharply since its peak in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, its members are principally involved in drug trafficking, concentrated in the VRAEM region.
Due to the presence of armed groups, some Western governments advise against all travel to the VRAEM region, as well to areas along the Colombian border.