Police Round Up 1,400 in Response to Rebel Attacks
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Police responded to a rebel attack that blacked out the capital and a car bombing that injured four people by sweeping through Lima’s slums and detaining almost 1,400 people.
Meanwhile, the government on Thursday extended for another 60 days a state of emergency in 25 Andean provinces first imposed more than four years ago.
The government said the extention was necessary because ″terrorist attacks continue against lives and private and public property.″
The blackout and bombings were the first in Lima since center-left President Alan Garcia took office July 28, pledging to seek negotiations with the Maoist-inspired Shining Path guerrillas to end political violence that has claimed at least 5,000 lives since 1980.
Maj. Luis Cuba Quintana, spokesman for the Civil Guard, Peru’s national police force, blamed the attacks on the Shining Path, the largest of three rebel groups operating in Peru.
Quintana said police picked up 1,390 people in sweeps through slums on Thursday, and were questioning the detainees. He said the sweep was an attempt to catch terrorists responsible for the attacks and block further attempts. Most detainees have been released within a few hours in previous instances.
A spokesman for the state power company Electroperu said rebels dynamited a tower carrying power lines 30 miles east of Lima, plunging the capital and its port of El Callao into darkness for more than an hour late Wednesday. Some neighborhoods remained without electricity at noon Thursday.
Residents of the slum Ciudad de Dios, or City of God, told police they saw torches form the shape of a huge hammer and sickle - the symbol of the Shining Path - on a nearby hillside during the blackout.
Electroperu said the power failure affected an area of the Pacific coast from the port of Chimbote, 250 miles north of Lima, to the desert city of Ica, 185 miles south of the capital. It said workers were checking the power system for other evidence of sabotage.
The car bomb exploded Wednesday outside the office of the Lima prefect, who is in charge of maintaining public order. A policeman and three women were hurt, authorities said.
Insurgents also detonated a charge of dynamite outside a branch of the Banco Popular in the working-class neighborhood of Rimac on Wednesday night, and near the office of Garcia’s Aprista Party in the shantytown of Villa El Salvador.
Lima has been blacked out 14 times since 1982, and the Shining Path has been blamed in most cases. Generally, rebels have dynamited power towers in the Andes hundreds of miles southeast of Lima.