Shining Path guerrillas torched 20 vehicles belonging to a construction company in Peru that had refused to pay protection money, highlighting the rebel's continuing grip over certain strategically important areas of the country.
The assault came on the night of July 23, when approximately 50 guerrillas descended on various worker camps set up by construction firm Consorcio Vial Quinua, which was applying tarmac to a road through the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) region -- Peru's drug trafficking heartland.
According to witnesses, the rebels then pulled over vehicles and ordered the drivers out, telling them "the issue is not with the people, nor with you, it is with the company," reported La Republica.
The attack came after the company refused to pay extortion fees of approximately $35,000. The guerrillas destroyed an estimated $5 million worth of equipment in total, but there were no reported confrontations or injuries.
Police said they believe the guerrilla cell responsible is headed by the second-in-command of the VRAEM faction of the Shining Path, Orlando Alejandro Borda Casafranca, alias "Comrade Alipio."
InSight Crime Analysis
The Shining Path may be a shadow of the organization that once terrorized Peru at the peak of its power in the 1990s, but attacks like this one show that the rebels are still a major force in the areas where they are active.
The VRAEM region where the attack took place is not only a stronghold for one of the two factions of the fragmented guerrilla group, it is also the epicenter of Peruvian coca cultivation and drug trafficking. The guerrillas have thrived in this region, financing their activities by taxing the local drug trade and providing security services for traffickers, in addition to other revenue sources such as extortion and illegal timber trafficking.
The Shining Path have also taken advantage of the state's weak presence in the region, a point driven home by this latest attack, which saw a major construction company working on a public infrastructure project unable to rely on the state for protection.