LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- Peru's President Alberto Fujimori said on Monday
his security forces have captured two key rebels in their 18-year-old fight to
defeat the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru communist guerrilla groups.
The president told reporters the arrests were "major blows" against the
groups, who carry out occasional attacks despite being seriously weakened
since their leaders' capture in 1992.
Still, while Fujimori said security forces nabbed Shining Path's
third-highest-ranking guerrilla and the leader of the Tupac Amaru's top
fighting unit, anti-terrorist police sources downplayed the captured rebels'
There was little evidence the Shining Path's "Comrade Rita," who was a
close ally of the group's now-jailed leader Abimael Guzman, had been
particularly active in recent years, the sources said.
And while the captured "Comrade Joel" of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary
Movemen had led a fighting unit, his faction did not traditionally play a
dominant role within the group, they added.
In recent years political analysts and opposition legislators have criticised
Fujimori for "triumphalism" in exaggerating the importance of rebels' arrests.
During a guerrilla war that has cost more than 25,000 lives and $30 billion
infrastructure damage, the larger and more bloody Shining Path was virtually
defeated in 1992. It has restricted its activities mainly to remote jungle or
highland areas in recent years.
The much smaller Tupac Amaru group -- reduced now to possibly only tens
of permanently armed fighters -- has carried out no notable attack since its
most well-known assault in 1996 when it took several important people
hostage at a Japanese diplomatic residence.
After a four-month siege following that attack, Peru's military rescued
one of the remaining 72 captives alive and killed the 14 rebel hostage-takers.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.