BBC News
September 19, 2008

 'Rebel leader' rejects surrender

A man claming to be the leader of Peru's remaining Shining Path rebels has rejected a call to surrender and demanded new negotiations.

In a radio interview, a man who claimed to be Comrade Artemio said the leftist group would never lay down its arms.

Peru's defence minister said there was no proof that the recording of the interview was genuine so refused to comment further on the interview.

The Shining Path wrought havoc in Peru during the 1980s and early 1990s.

But violence fell after the arrest of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman in 1992.

'No surrender'

Comrade Artemio, whose real name is Filomeno Cerron Cardoso, leads what is left of the group.

In what would be his first interview in almost two years, the man claiming to be Comrade Artemio spoke to Radio La Luz in Aucayacu in Huanuco region, near the rebel stronghold.

He said the rebels completely rejected an ultimatum issued by Peru's national police chief to surrender.

"We still insist that what is needed is a political solution, what is needed is a general amnesty and national reconciliation," he said.

"We're never going to turn over our arms and surrender. He knows that very well, that we're not going to do it; and why should we have to do it?"

The Shining Path nowadays is just a fraction of its former size, reports the BBC's Dan Collyns from Lima, but its fighters still control remote coca-growing areas of Peru's central jungle and are heavily involved in the drugs trade.

Experts say there are no more than 150 fighters and they no longer present a threat to national security.

The group has killed dozens of policemen and anti drugs workers in recent years, but it is a far cry from the Maoist-inspired organisation of the 1980s and 1990s which tried to impose a communist regime and in the process saw almost 70,000 people killed, our reporter adds.