Army Kills Top Guerrilla Leader, 12 Others, at Ayacucho Rebel Meeting
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Army troops killed a rebel leader and 12 other guerrillas of the radical Shining Path movement during raids in the countryside outside Ayacucho, the state news agency Andina said Saturday.
Andina, which identified the rebel chief as Claudio Bellido Hauytalla, said the shootings occurred Wednesday and Thursday in Vilcashuaman, 90 miles south of Ayacucho.
Bellido is believed to have been the third-ranking leader of the mysterious Shining Path, trailing its founder Abimael Guzman and Julio Cesar Mezzich, who worked with peasants in the impoverished Ayacucho area before joining the movement.
Andina described Bellido as ″a very astute and slippery man who had been known to disguise himself as a priest and a woman to gain entry into hamlets in the Ayacucho area.″
Ayacucho, an Andean mountain city 250 miles southeast of Lima, is the birthplace of the Shining Path’s six-year-old war to topple Peru’s elected government and establish a Marxist state.
Government records say about 10,000 people, including rebels, peasants, soldiers, police and politicians have been killed since the violence broke out.
Shining Path violence around the country has increased since the guerrillas vowed to avenge the deaths of 250 rioting rebel inmates killed in June when security troops recaptured three Lima prisons.
Also Saturday, the Joint Military Command said violence last week in the Ayacucho are left a total of 39 rebels dead.
Andina described Bellido as ″one of the most important leaders of the Shining Path. Military intelligence sources said it had been determined that he was the head of operations for the Ayacucho zone and was directly responsible for numerous attacks.″
The agency said Bellido directed the slayings two months ago of five engineers working on a government development project in Ayacucho. The engineers were killed when rebels attacked them with stones.
The Shining Path, led by Guzman, a former philosphy professor now believed in ill health and hiding in Lima, split from the Peruvian Communist Party in 1970.
After a decade of proselytizing in Ayacucho, one of Peru’s most impoverished regions, it launched an armed insurgency in May 1980 on the eve of the first national elections after 12 years of military rule.