Following a deadly attack by Paraguay’s elusive guerrilla group the EPP, the government may deploy further police reinforcements in the northern state of Concepcion, where the rebels are active.
Two police officers were killed September 21 after the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) launched an attack near a small police post outside the city of Horqueta. The EPP attacked late at night, detonating a homemade bomb outside the police sleeping quarters, then assailing the building with sniper fire, reports ABC. The group of assailants was no larger than seven, according to the police who survived the ambush.
Police added that the EPP force is believed to have stolen weapons from the outpost then retreated towards a rural area known as Hugua Ñandu. In another sign that the ambush was carefully planned, investigators found four bombs left by the EPP in a woodland near where the attack took place.
Vice President Federico Franco, currently acting head of state while President Fernando Lugo is in Brazil for a cancer check-up, said that the country will “make war” against the EPP until the group is eliminated. The minister of the interior added that a police surge may be deployed to Concepcion in the coming days.
The state of Concepcion is a focal point of EPP activity. The rebels detonated a bomb outside a Horqueta police station in mid-January, and kidnapped a prominent local rancher in 2009, the group’s first high-profile action.
Hit-and-run attacks like the one that took place this week prove the EPP is capable of organizing and carrying out low-impact actions. Still, there is much internal debate within Paraguay over how much of the threat the EPP really poses. One police official said Wednesday’s attack took place because many police do not believe the EPP actually exists, let alone are capable of carrying out classic guerrilla attacks reminiscent of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC).
Despite the fact that the EPP are far from being Paraguay’s most serious security threat, President Lugo has made the campaign against the rebels a priority of his administration, perhaps in part to undermine allegations about his links to the extreme left. There is little sign that acting president Franco will deviate from the policy, most likely due to unwillingness to appear “soft” against the alleged guerrilla threat.
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