LIMA, Peru (AP) _ A blackout that last week plunged a large portion of Peru's capital into darkness was caused by suspected leftist rebels who bombed an electric pylon, police said Thursday.

The outage prompted a flood of phone calls to local radio stations by panicky residents who remembered the systematic bombing campaign by leftist rebels in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The 230-foot tower carrying high tension transmission lines was dynamited 25 miles southeast of Lima on Feb. 18, causing a 40-minute power outage that affected at least a fifth of the Capital's 8 million inhabitants.

In his bid for a third straight term in office, President Alberto Fujimori has said that Peru risks a return to political chaos if he is not re-elected in the April 9 vote.

The power outage last week was initially attributed to an unexplained ``technical failure'' with an electrical transmission line.

Remnants of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency have stepped up activity in Peru's central highlands and jungle in recent weeks. Fighting with leftist rebels has left 30,000 dead since 1980.