Peru Captures Guerrilla Leader
By The Associated Press
LIMA, Peru (AP)
-- Hungry and limping from an old bullet wound, the
top commander of Peru's bloody Shining Path guerrilla movement was
snared Wednesday by army commandos after a two-week pursuit
through rugged mountains and jungle.
the elusive Oscar Ramirez Durand, 46, at dawn with
three female rebels near the highland city of Huancayo, 125 miles east of
also known as ``Comrade Feliciano,'' was the last
national leader of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency who was still at
He replaced Shining
Path founder and ideological guru Abimael Guzman
as top commander of the band after Guzman was captured in a Lima
hideout in 1992.
``We have the
man. He's limping, but it's not because of the capture,''
President Alberto Fujimori said. ``His health is fine, but he's hungry
because he has not eaten for three days. He has been surrounded for
various days, and the pursuit has been intense.''
Despite his reputation
for ferocity, Ramirez Durand gave up without firing
a shot, Fujimori said.
He said the rebel
leader would be taken to Lima and held at a high
security prison at a naval base in Callao, Lima's port. Guzman is serving a
life sentence at the prison.
A hooded Ramirez
Durand with his head bowed was later pushed onto a
military plane by army commandos, said reporters at the army base in the
highlands where the rebel leader was first taken.
oversaw the operation from the military base, said the
capture had ``decapitated'' the Shining Path. But the president admitted
die-hard remnants of the rebel band might continue to fight on.
Experts on the
Maoist rebellion agreed the capture was another hard
blow to the guerrilla movement -- known in Spanish as ``Sendero
Luminoso'' -- but they said it did not mean the death of the organization.
capture will have a great impact on the Shining Path --
but not like that of Guzman's capture, said Carlos Tapia, who has studied
the rebel movement since its inception and published a book about it.
``It is much
easier to replace Feliciano in a new terrorist leadership than it
was to replace Abimael Guzman,'' Tapia said.
capture, the rebel movement had nearly driven the
Peruvian government to its knees, murdering hundreds of village
authorities, ambushing army patrols and unleashing deadly car bomb
attacks in Lima. The violence had a huge impact on tourism in Peru.
The Shining Path
had as many as 10,000 armed fighters in the early
1990s but is now believed to have fewer than 1,000 combatants.
The rebels are
concentrated in the jungles of Huallaga Valley and of the
department of Ayacucho, the birthplace of the rebellion.
More than 30,000
people, including soldiers, rebels and noncombatants,
have died in political violence in Peru since the Shining Path took up arms
But in recent years, the death toll has dropped to a few hundred a year.
More than 1,500
army commandos had been in pursuit of Ramirez
Durand in a region east of Lima, where the highland jungle meets the
the rebel leader near an abandoned hacienda after
flushing him out of a jungle-cloaked gorge on Tuesday.
the Shining Path's top military strategist under Guzman,
escaped capture after Guzman and other leaders were taken prisoner in
Lima hideouts. He pulled back into remote jungle regions on the eastern
slopes of the Andes and worked to reorganize the decimated guerrilla
Guzman, 64, was
an intellectual, a former university professor who never
took part in guerrilla attacks. But Ramirez Durand was a man of action
who carried out the Shining Path's deadly strategy of terror.
did not enjoy the stature that Guzman had among
Shining Path followers, but he had acquired a reputation for slipping
through the hands of military patrols.
in recent years described him as violent and easy to
anger. They said he did not hesitate to kill rebels he suspected of
He limped from
a gunshot wound in a leg that he received when he led a
1982 raid on a jail in Ayacucho that freed 250 imprisoned rebels.