Before Peru’s presidential elections: guerrillas kill 16 people | Free press

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San Miguel del Ene (dpa) – Two weeks before the presidential election, alleged rebels killed 16 people in central Peru.

Two children were among the victims of the massacre at a bar in the village of San Miguel del Ene in an area where drugs grow, the South American country’s Department of Defense said Tuesday evening (local time). The bodies of the minors and four other victims have been cremated.

According to the army, the guerrilla organization Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was behind the attack. In a confession left at the scene of the crime, the perpetrators called on right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori not to vote in the June 6 presidential election.

Despite the massacre, Defense Minister Nuria Esparch promised safe elections. “Rest assured, the next elections will be safe,” she told Exitosa radio station. Presidential candidate Fujimori condemned the massacre. “I am sorry that bloody acts of violence are again taking place in our country. The terrorist groups want to paralyze us and spread fear – we will not allow that, ”she said. “I offer my condolences to the families of the victims and support the police and the armed forces. We must defend our homeland and vote on June 6. “

In the second elections in two weeks, the South American country will be confronted with an exchange of blows between political extremes: the daughter of the authoritarian ex-president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) takes on the socialist Pedro Castillo. In the event of an election victory, the former teacher of the Marxist-Leninist party Perú Libre wants to build a socialist state, monitor the media more closely and abolish the constitutional court.

During the election campaign, Fujimori campaigned for a political system that unites democratic models with heavy-handed politics. Her father Alberto Fujimori is serving a 25-year sentence for serious human rights violations. During his tenure, he put his security forces to rigorous action against leftist and allegedly subversive forces in the fight against the Shining Path, and parliament became powerless. In addition, tens of thousands of indigenous women were forcibly sterilized. In the event of an election victory, Keiko Fujimori wants to pardon her father.

Interim President Francisco Sagasti condemned the bloody act. “I ordered the deployment of the armed forces and the police in the region. This terrorist act must not go unpunished, ”the head of state wrote on Twitter. “On behalf of the transitional government, I offer my condolences to the families of the victims.”

The act took place in the valleys of the rivers Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro (Vraem). The Shining Path is very active in the region, but state institutions are poorly represented. The area is an important growing area for the coca plant. Peru is the largest cocaine producer in the world, next to Colombia and Bolivia.

“There are many reasons why the remnants of the Shining Path remain in the Vraem. It’s a cancer that eats up society, ”said Defense Secretary Esparch. “We have drawn up a multi-year action plan to put an end to this. The good Peruvians will win. “

Between 1980 and 2000, nearly 70,000 people died in clashes between the Shining Path and state security forces. Unlike many other civil wars in the region, the guerrillas were responsible for much of the deaths in Peru. Today, the remaining units of the Shining Path are mainly devoted to drug trafficking.