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14/12/2010 | Peru sought US military aid to battle rebels: leak

A.F.P.

Peru sought US military assistance to counter a resurgent terror threat from Shining Path guerrillas in 2009, according to a US diplomatic cable released to the media by WikiLeaks.

 

The US ambassador to Lima, Michael McKinley, apparently wrote that Peru was seeking helicopters, unmanned drones, intelligence-gathering equipment and training as part of "strong GOP (government of Peru) interest in expanding security cooperation with the United States."

McKinley, in a confidential November 2009 cable to US Southern Command head General Douglas Fraser, said the commander's upcoming visit "affords an opportunity to underscore USG (US government) interest in supporting the GOP's efforts to combat these threats in the several discrete areas where we are best positioned to help."

According to the cable, reported Sunday in the online edition of Spanish newspaper El Pais, one of several major news outlets to receive the documents from anti-privacy website WikiLeaks, McKinley sought expanded US cooperation to help Peru battle "re-emerging Shining Path terrorism."

Part of the US military aid would go towards "countering SL's (Sendero Luminosos') increased use of home-made IEDs, mines and booby traps."

The improvised explosive devices laid by the rebels have become death traps on the remote roads of Upper Huallaga valley in the northeast and Apurimac in the southeast.

A brutal guerrilla war launched by Shining Path in 1980 left nearly 70,000 people dead. The group was largely crushed by the mid-1990s, but activity by remnants of the Maoist-inspired group had risen dramatically in 2009.

An alliance that year between the guerrillas and other drug traffickers launched over 100 attacks, killing 50 soldiers and 25 policemen and shooting down a helicopter.

Among the focal points of cooperation discussed by the two countries, McKinley wrote, was the improvement of Peru's intelligence gathering through US provision of night vision goggles, unmanned aerial vehicles and satellite imagery and the need to "replace, replenish or repair their moribund helicopter fleet."

In another cable McKinley said local contacts in the Ayacucho region south of Lima revealed that "general discontent and disillusionment with the government, and a particular distaste for the ruling APRA party, had expanded and deepened popular sympathy for 'anti-system' alternatives."

Beverly Hills Courier (Estados Unidos)

 


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