May 27, 1999

Leftist rebels behead four civil militiamen in Peru, police say

                  LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Maoist Shining Path rebels shot and beheaded four
                  members of a peasant militia and kidnapped its leader, police said Thursday.

                  Four members of the patrol harvesting barley in a field in Peru's central
                  Andes mountains were also wounded by gunfire in the surprise attack in the
                  district of Tintay in the department of Huancavelica, 170 miles east of Lima,
                  a police spokesman said.

                  The killings happened a week ago but police did not learn of the attack until
                  Wednesday because villagers had to walk for four days to reach a town with
                  a telephone.

                  The Shining Path's main leader still at large, Oscar Ramirez Durand, is
                  believed to operate in the jungle-covered mountains where the attack took

                  The military armed civilian militias in the late 1980s to fight leftist guerrillas in
                  rural areas where government presence was limited. The patrols helped
                  deliver serious setbacks to the rebels in the early 1990s.

                  Many of the patrols remain active despite a sharp drop in insurgent violence
                  following the capture of top rebel leaders in the early 1990s. Some 30,000
                  people have died in political violence since 1980.