LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- President Alberto Fujimori on Tuesday lowered
the death toll from a weekend clash between Peru's armed forces and
Shining Path rebels to five soldiers from nine.
Scores of Shining Path guerrillas ambushed Saturday an army helicopter
after it landed at a jungle clearing in the latest outbreak of periodic violence
in Peru's 19-year-old conflict, military sources said.
In the clash in central Peru, two rebels were also killed and nine other
soldiers were injured -- mainly with bullet wounds -- Fujimori told journalists
in Government Palace as he corrected a version he recounted Monday.
An 800-strong military force was hunting for the Shining Path attackers
through rugged jungle in the Satipo province over 280 miles (450 km) east
of Lima, he added.
Earlier this decade Shining Path almost brought the state to its knees,
capture of key commanders has virtually defeated the Maoist group.
Hardline units still carry out occasional attacks on villages and military
patrols in remote jungle and highland areas.
Fujimori's no-concessions military strategy against guerrillas is popular
Peru but his reputation for giving contradictory accounts of operations has
raised concern among the electorate over his credibility, according to
Peru's guerrilla wars have cost 30,000 lives but the fighting now typically
results in no more than a few hundred deaths each year, according to military
Copyright 1999 Reuters.