The New York Times
July 14, 1999

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.

          Soldiers captured the elusive Oscar Ramirez Durand, 46, at dawn with
          three female rebels near the highland city of Huancayo, 125 miles east of

          Ramirez Durand, 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.

          Fujimori, who 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.

          Ramirez Durand's 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.

          Before Guzman's 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
          in 1980.

          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
          Andes Mountains.

          Commandos grabbed the rebel leader near an abandoned hacienda after
          flushing him out of a jungle-cloaked gorge on Tuesday.

          Ramirez Durand, 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.

          Ramirez Durand 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.

          Followers captured 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.