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Peru captures wounded rebel leader

The Americas Post - The t-shirt certainly does help overcome any identification problems.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala announced Sunday his troops had captured the wounded leader of a surviving branch of the once-powerful Shining Path rebel group movement.

The former army lieutenant colonel personally flew to the remote coca-growing Upper Huallaga Valley to congratulate police and soldiers for detaining 50-year-old Comrade Artemio and two of his compatriots.

Artemio is the Nom de Guerre for Florindo “Juan” Flores, who was flown to Lima for removal of two bullets from his stomach, said chief prosecutor’s office spokesman Raul Sanchez. He also had shrapnel wounds in both hands, Sanchez reported.

“Mission accomplished,” Humala proclaimed on state TV. With the capture of Artemio and several top lieutenants the Upper Huallaga is now safe for agribusiness, cattle ranching and tourism, the president said.

Analysts describe Artemio’s capture as a mortal blow to the group of 150, about half of what remains of the Shining Path that wreaked havoc in Peru during the eighties and nineties. He was nabbed three days after being wounded under circumstances which Humala and other officials did not explain.

The remaining Shining Path faction, also financed by the drug trade, operates to the south in the Apurimac and Ene river valleys.
Humala said his forces would now concentrate on that group, blamed for attacking a remote police station last Monday and wounding two police officers.

Humala said the military had been “closely following” Artemio in recent weeks. Defense Minister Alberto Otarola had previously announced that Artemio was wounded in combat with Peruvian troops Thursday in the village of Puerto Pizana. But local journalists are also reporting that one of Artemio’s own men may have attacked him.

The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on Artemio’s head. Such rewards have successfully convinced some rebels to turn against their leaders in neighboring Colombia.

Today’s Shining Path is a but a shadow of the violent movement that controlled extensive reaches of the Peruvian countryside during the 1980’s.