Peruvian army rescues Shining Path kidnap victims after 25 years

Thirteen adults and 26 children in group evacuated by helicopter from Andes valley

Kidnap victims  disembark from an army helicopter in Junin, Peru after being rescued. Photograph: Luis Enrique Saldana/EPA

Kidnap victims disembark from an army helicopter in Junin, Peru after being rescued. Photograph: Luis Enrique Saldana/EPA

 

A Peruvian military operation in the Andes has secured the release of more than a dozen adults who were kidnapped by the Shining Path rebel group up to 25 years ago.

After being used as slaves in remote mountain communities, the 13 adults and 26 children were evacuated by helicopters, an army spokesman said.

Some had grown so accustomed to their lives with the Marxist group that they were initially reluctant to be rescued, said Peru’s vice-minister of defence Ivan Vega.

The eldest captive was a 70-year-old women who was kidnapped from a convent in Puerto Ocopa decades ago. The youngest was one year old.

The army said many of the children were conceived when the kidnap victims were raped. Others were reportedly abducted from villages, indoctrinated and told they had to work in “production camps” to supply the revolutionary guerrilla group.

About 120 troops and four army helicopters took part in the operation on July 23rd in a Shining Path stronghold in the heavily forested valley at the confluence of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers. The region is a centre of cocaine production.

The children were said to be frightened by the soldiers because they had been told they were the enemy.

The government said the operation was a victory against the Shining Path, which was largely defeated in the 1990s after waging a bloody insurgency that left almost 70,000 people dead or missing.

Remnants of the group remain active. They had been led by brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino, who have been indicted in the US for alleged drug trafficking offences. – (Guardian service)