Five security guards have been kidnapped and murdered on a cattle ranch in north-central Paraguay, allegedly by members of the EPP, possibly a show of strength by the guerrilla group to recently inaugurated president Horacio Cartes.
According to an official account cited by Argentine newspaper Clarin, 12 people dressed in camouflage, believed to be part of the Paraguayan People's Army (EPP) shot and killed five security guards at a cattle ranch owned by a Brazilian national in the Tacuati district of the San Pedro Department on August 17.
The ranch superintendent was released and contacted police, who were shot at as they arrived on the scene, injuring a young officer.
Authorities declared a state of "maximum alert" following the attacks, but the government has thus far chosen not to militarize the area, reported the BBC.
InSight Crime Analysis
This latest attack was the most deadly committed by the EPP since it started operating in the north of the country, said Clarin. It is also another sign that the group is stepping up activity -- of the 27 kidnappings and attacks committed by the rebels between 2005 and early 2012, over half occurred between 2010 and 2012, the majority in the Concepcion department near the site of the recent attack.
According to police, the guerrillas have killed 31 people (21 civilians, ten police) since they began operating under the name EPP around six years ago, reported AFP.
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However, it's worth remembering rebels have been erroneously blamed for attacks in the past. The group was thought to be behind the murder of a prominent rancher in May, but it later emerged that bullets purchased from Colombia by Paraguayan police were used by the assassins, making the EPP an unlikely culprit.
It is possible that the recent attack was carried out by the EPP as a way of testing the response of President Horacio Cartes, who recently entered office. Though the country's previous president declared all out war on the group, Cartes has stated that the group "will not mark my agenda" -- a statement he repeated following the weekend's murders.