Hostages Released in Peru
By Dialogo April 18, 2012
Following an offensive by the Peruvian security forces against the Shining Path guerrilla group on April 14, the 36 hostages from one Swedish and one local construction firm being held in the southeastern Peruvian jungle were released by their captors themselves early that morning.
The Peruvian Government had sent more than 1,500 Soldiers to the area of operations of Swedish firm Skanska and Peruvian firm Construcciones Modulares, in what it named Operation Freedom, conducted between April 10 and 14 in the province of La Convención, to rescue the employees of the construction firms, who were kidnapped on April 9 near the Camisea natural-gas field.
According to the firms, the sum of 10 million dollars sought by the captors, among other demands, was not paid.
From Cartagena, where he participated in the Summit of the Americas, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala characterized the release as “a significant victory,” and although he admitted that clashes had taken place, he refused to comment on the number of casualties on either side.
The released hostages had to walk seven hours through the jungle to reach a town with a telephone, in order to communicate the news of their release, at the same time that the Defense Ministry attributed the outcome to a military siege that forced Shining Path to let its captives go.
The authorities did not offer figures for Shining Path casualties, but according to the local press, at least two guerrillas are believed to have died in the clash, in a jungle area more than 500 km southeast of Lima.
The kidnapping was led by Martín Quispe Palomino, “Comrade Gabriel,” the brother of Víctor, “Comrade José,” the head of the Shining Path faction in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE), a coca-producing river basin in the country, where drug traffickers operate and which is a refuge for what is considered a remnant column of Shining Path, an organization that was defeated in the mid-1990s.
The guerrilla group kidnapped the 36 workers at the beginning of the week, in the town of Kepashiato, a locality of fewer than 3,000 people near Camisea, the country’s largest natural-gas field.