An armed group rushed into a police station near a cocaine-trafficking route in Peru's southern highlands early Thursday, killing a police lieutenant and wounding three other officers.
The assault, which took place shortly after midnight in Peru's Apurimac state, appeared to be carried out by members of the Shining Path insurgency, which has clashed with state security forces for decades, said Gen. David Rodriguez, head of Peru's national police force, on the Radioprogramas radio station.
Attacks in prime coca-producing areas are often blamed on remnants of the Shining Path, which almost brought Peru's government to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, political assassinations, bombings and sabotage. The communist movement faded after its leader, Abimael Guzman, was captured in 1992.
An estimated 350-400 remaining Shining Path rebels are suspected of protecting drug smugglers who use backpacks and mules to bring cocaine over Andean mountains.
An army patrol last month killed seven suspected guerrillas in a remote area in the southern highlands used by drug traffickers, and the army earlier this week said two other Shining Path rebels had been killed in a clash with soldiers in the southern state of Huancavelica.
While the group is known for ambushing police and army patrols on jungle roads, Thursday's attack was more daring.
At least 30 armed men and women stormed the village's main square shouting communist slogans as they destroyed the police station, stealing the officers' weapons and uniforms, Manuel Cardenas, an Ocabamba villager, told Radioprogramas.
The bullet-ridden body of police Lt. Hector Zegarra was found in Ocabamba village's police station Thursday morning, national police chief Rodriguez said.
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