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Cablegate: Peru: Shining Path Blamed for Attack On Police

VZCZCXRO9874
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT
RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHPE #1876 3401946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051946Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9701
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS LIMA 001876

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER SNAR ASEC PE
SUBJECT: PERU: SHINING PATH BLAMED FOR ATTACK ON POLICE

REF: A. 07 LIMA 3707
B. LIMA 1678

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: Peruvian National Police (PNP) suspect
that Shining Path forces in the Upper Huallaga Valley
(SL-UHV) ambushed a police convoy November 26, killing five
and injuring four others. Observers speculate the attack may
have been retribution to earlier drug seizures by police in
the area and/or revenge for the killing of senior SL-UHV
leader Epifanio Espiritu Acosta (aka "Comrade JL") a year ago
to the day. Analysts are divided about whether SL-UHV has
now recuperated from the severe blows it took in 2007 or,
more hopefully, SL-UHV leader "Artemio" is on the defensive.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Unidentified attackers ambushed a PNP convoy
November 26, killing five police and wounding four others.
The ambush occurred on the highway some 20 kilometers north
of Tingo Maria at approximately 4:00 p.m. The PNP officer
leading the group told Emboffs December 3 that, recognizing
his vulnerability in that stretch of highway, he had
commanded his vehicles to proceed through at full speed.
While the attackers succeeded in disabling two of the three
convoy vehicles, he said, the police were able to return
fire. The firefight ended when a tourist bus entered the
scene, and the attackers began to flee, according to the
officer. Police recovered a variety of items the attackers
left behind, including improvised explosive devices.

3. (SBU) Police told reporters the gunmen had waited in
place for up to two days before the attack, allowing at least
two other patrols to pass in the meantime. That assertion
has led some observers to speculate whether the attackers
specifically targeted the ambushed group, perhaps in response
to seizures the same patrol had made the week before. The
date of the attack marked the one-year anniversary of the
PNP's killing of senior SL-UHV leader Epifanio Espiritu
Acosta (aka "Comrade JL") in November 2007 (ref A). Some
analysts suggest the timing may have been a deliberate act of
revenge for that killing. PNP officials have attributed the
attack to "narcoterrorists", i.e., Sendero Luminoso.

4. (SBU) This attack is the first in the UHV since the
October 14 shooting of two PNP officers (ref B), which was
the first of the year in the UHV against state forces.
(During the past months, there have been other attacks,
conducted by a separate SL faction, in the emergency VRAE
zone.) Analysts are considering now whether two attacks in
the area in as many months indicates that SL-UHV has
recuperated and rebuilt following the severe blows it took in
2007 or, more hopefully, that SL-UHV leader "Artemio" is on
the defensive and fighting to protect his remaining
interests. The bottom line though is that the two Sendero
organizations have killed a combined 25 police and military
since the beginning of October -- a significant escalation of
activity.
NEALON

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