Clashes broke out between Peruvian soldiers and “narcoterrorists” believed to belong to the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) armed group in the VRAEM region (Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro) on Thursday, October 18. The incident occurred in the Cintiaro area of Canayre district (Huanta province; Ayacucho region). One soldier was killed and a second wounded.
The Peruvian armed forces have been carrying out security operations to root out drug groups in the region; as such, further clashes and attacks are likely in the coming weeks and months. A similar incident occurred on October 6, the day before the first round of regional and municipal elections, in Huanta province, leaving one soldier injured.
Security conditions in the VRAEM region - made up of parts of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Cusco, and Junín - are poor, notably due to 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.
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