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article imageGuerrilla attack kills four before Peru election

By AFP     Apr 10, 2016 in World

Three soldiers and a civilian were killed, and seven others wounded, in two attacks by guerrillas in the jungles of central Peru, on the eve of presidential elections.

Authorities blamed remnants of the Shining Path communist guerrilla group, which was largely crushed in the 1990s but still has members hiding in the jungle.

The three soldiers and a driver were killed as they were taking forces to guard voting stations in the central Junin region.

"Special forces and supporting aircraft were sent to take control of the area and remove the military personnel that still remains in place," the Joint Command of the Armed Forces said in a statement.

The guerrillas first struck at Hatun Asha, located in a jungle zone considered a stronghold of the guerrillas and a major coca-producing area.

In a second attack, they targeted a military ship on the Apurimac River in the south, wounding two soldiers, authorities said.

President Ollanta Humala condemned the "insane" violence.

"Terrorism and those who collude with it have no place in our society or in our family," said Humala.

Mariano Cucho, the head of the National Office of Electoral Processes, insisted that "this attack will not tarnish the elections."

Some 23 million Peruvians are called to vote on Sunday for a new president and members of congress.

Leading the polls is conservative candidate Keiko Fujimori, whose father Alberto Fujimori waged a fierce conflict against the Shining Path when he was president from 1990 to 2000.

Around 69,000 people were killed between 1980 and 2000 in the conflict with the Shining Path, according to the country's Truth and Reconciliation commission.

"Peru has lived through these violent periods and we are working to bring peace to the country," Humala told a news conference.

"All these demented acts do is unite the Peruvian people more."

Authorities say remnants of the guerrilla group have joined forces with drug gangs and remain active in the remote mountains and jungles.

Peru is one of the biggest coca leaf and cocaine producers in the world, according to the United Nations and US authorities.

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