Four Killed In Car Bombing; Guerrillas Apparently Recovering Strength
LYNN F. MONAHAN
May. 24, 1995
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ In a sign that leftist guerrillas may be recovering their strength, a car bomb exploded outside a luxury hotel-casino Wednesday, killing four people and wounding 13.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but police said the way in which it was carried out indicated it was the work of the Shining Path, a Maoist group that terrorized Peru for more than a decade before its leader was captured in 1992.
At about 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, two people brandishing automatic weapons burst into the casino area of the Hotel Maria Angola and ordered guests to lie on the floor, said Marco Rosell, head of hotel security. Two of their colleagues took advantage of the diversion to drive a Russian-made car in front of the hotel.
All four then fled, firing shots in the air and shouting ``car bomb,'' Rosell said. Moments later, 175 pounds of explosives destroyed the front of the 10-story building in the Miraflores section of Lima.
The explosion killed four people _ two security guards, a casino employee and a cook in the hotel's restaurant.
About 80 guests were staying in the 124-room hotel and about 30 people were in the casino when the bomb went off.
Two men and a woman were arrested following a chase and a shootout, police said, adding that at least two of the suspects were from Ayacucho, the mountain town where the Shining Path was founded 25 years ago.
On May 17, 1980, the group launched its armed struggle when guerrillas burned ballot boxes in a remote highland village.
Ensuing political violence claimed nearly 30,000 lives but dropped sharply after the 1992 arrest of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman. Because of internal divisions, many analysts thought the group was no longer capable of major organized attacks.
Wednesday's car bombing brought that into question.
``The attack reminds us that the Shining Path still exists,'' said Raul Gonzales, an expert on the group. ``It is the most important Shining Path attack since the fall of Abimael Guzman.''
The bombing occurred only two blocks from Tarata Street, the scene of Peru's worst terrorist bombing three years ago that killed 25 people. Authorities suspected Shining Path guerrillas were responsible that attack.
Gonzales said the Shining Path no longer poses a risk to the country's economic and political stability. But he said the group could continue sporadic _ and deadly _ attacks.
President Alberto Fujimori has pledged to eliminate the Shining Path by the end of his first term on July 28, when he will be sworn in for another five years.
But experts, who estimate the group still has some 1,000 combatants in several rural strongholds, doubt he will accomplish that goal.
David Montoya, an expert on the Shining Path for Peru's Center for Development Studies and Promotion in Lima, said the group has increased small-scale military operations in rural areas in the last three months.
The group also has been actively recruiting in Lima, he said, but does not have a solid military presence there.
``It cannot risk trying a wave of bombings, but it can carry out this type of action,'' Montoya said.