Suspected Shining Path rebels destroyed three helicopters that were carrying out work on a gas pipeline running through Peru's lawless VRAE region, highlighting the group's continued control of the area and its threat to energy projects there.
The attack was carried out in the early hours of October 6 in the Cusco region. Around 30 alleged Shining Path guerrillas belonging to the group’s Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) faction broke into the Kiteni airstrip and blew up three helicopters, reported La Republica. The helicopters were used by gas consortium Transportadora de Gas del Peru (TGP) to conduct maintenance work on a pipeline in the Camisea natural gas fields.
According to La Republica, the attack was the result of TGP’s refusal to pay extortion money to the Shining Path.
TGP announced that all of its maintenance activities will be suspended until further notice, adding, “We trust the state will … take the steps necessary to re-establish security in the area,” reported Reuters.
InSight Crime Analysis
This is not the first time that the Shining Path has targeted TGP. In June this year, guerrillas invaded one of the company’s camps to warn workers not to cooperate with security forces, and painted a helicopter in revolutionary propaganda.
The rebels also kidnapped 36 gas workers working on the Camisea gas fields in Cusco in April, demanding $10 million dollars for the liberation. The workers were released five days later, though the government denied that any ransom had been paid.
Above all, the incident highlights the power of the Shining Path in the VRAE. April’s kidnapping was a highly embarrassing episode for the government, with security forces sent to rescue the workers ambushed and killed by the rebels. TGP's call for the state to "re-establish security" will not be easy to carry out in the region, which has been under a state of emergency since 2003.