February 23, 2002

Leftist guerrillas raid small town in Peruvian Andes

                 LIMA, Peru (AP) -- Armed Shining Path rebels raided a town in Peru's
                 Andes, looting stores and extorting money from 15 truck drivers before
                 fleeing into the fog-shrouded mountains, police said Saturday.

                 About 50 members of the Mao-inspired guerrilla group descended Thursday on the
                 hamlet of Calicanto in Ayacucho province, some 210 miles (345 kilometers)
                 southeast of Lima, police said.

                 Townspeople said the rebels, who were carrying automatic shotguns and wearing
                 hoods, criticized the government's economic policies and urged the inhabitants to
                 join their ranks.

                 The Shining Path, which took root in Ayacucho province, terrorized Peru in the
                 1980s and early 1990s with car bombings, assassinations and peasant massacres in
                 an effort to overthrow the government.

                 The violence diminished significantly after the capture of the group's founder and
                 leader in 1992.

                 Police believe at least 400 Shining Path combatants are still active, mainly in the Ene
                 River valley in the lowland jungles of northeast Ayacucho province, and in the
                 Huallaga River valley several hundred miles (kilometers) to the north.

                 At the peak of its strength, the Shining Path was believed to have as many as
                 10,000 fighters.

                 Police believe the group that raided Calicanto also looted the nearby town of
                 Tutumbaro two months ago.

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Pre ss.