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Peruvian POWs Rescued

[Editor's Note: Since 1980 the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) has waged a people's war in an effort to overthrow the US supported regime in Peru. That struggle suffered a major setback in 1992 when the party's chairman, Abimael Guzman, and several members of the central committee were captured by the Peruvian secret police. Since then the people's war has continued; subjected to an almost total news blackout amid claims by the government that the PCP has been defeated. The Peruvian government holds several thousand political prisoners in abysmal conditions. [See: PLN, Vol. 3, No. 9.] In the past, the government has murdered hundreds of political prisoners in periodic massacres. The following article was translated by PLN from El Diario Internacional, a magazine published in Belgium by exiled journalist Luis Arce Borja. This is the first time it has appeared in English. For more information about political developments and struggle in Peru contact: The New Flag, 30-08 Broadway, Suite 159, Queens, NY 11106.]

In a violent operation, a column of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) composed of 50 guerrillas, attacked a police convoy and liberated eight prisoners of war. The rescue operation took place on the central highway (between Huanaco and Pasco). The battle between police and guerrillas took place at 4 AM on December 7, 1995.

The military convoy was composed of 30 policemen and two armored vehicles. The eight prisoners were in one of the vehicles along with a dozen policemen armed with rifles and machine guns. The eight combatants had been captured in the early days of December. According to the government they were high ranking commanders of the Maoist guerrilla. It is for this reason that the leaders of the anti-subversive struggle decided to transfer them to Lima to submit them to the "scientific" treatment of the National Intelligence Service (SIN). [Editor's Note: The Peruvian political police routinely tortures, rapes and otherwise mistreats those unfortunate enough to be in their custody.] The PCP had carefully prepared "operation rescue" for a week. The order from the People's Liberation Army was imperative: "Save the lives of the comrade prisoners." It was known that the SIN had plans to murder the Maoists in the hands of police. The PLA designated the guerrilla contingent that would be responsible for carrying out the action.

The night before the operation everything was ready for the attack. The guerrilla column had divided itself into three parts. One part, composed of 30 combatants armed with light rifles and grenade launchers, would be in charge of carrying out the frontal assault against the police vehicles. This group would have the mission of protecting and rescuing the prisoners. Another part, composed of 10 guerrillas, would remain on the fringes of the battle in order to confront any possible help, by air or by land, that the police convoy might receive. A third part of the column, composed of 10 comrades, heavily armed with missiles and bazookas, would take exclusive charge of covering the retreat by the rest of the column at the end of the encounter.

The attack on the police convoy would have to be carried out openly. The target (the police) would be moving. This was an operation with high military risks. The time and the circumstances had not allowed planning an ambush. The attack would take place on an open highway.

It was four in the morning and dawn had not yet lit up the sky. The open road wound through the mountains of the low Andes. The two police troop carriers were gray dots on the dark panorama. From a distance, without the police noticing, the two vehicles in which the 50 guerrillas were mobilized, appeared. One of the trucks with guerrillas surprisingly accelerated and passed the first vehicle in the police convoy. It placed itself in front and braked suddenly. Simultaneously the other truck with guerrillas placed itself behind the last police vehicle. The police convoy was immobilized. Instantly the guerrillas began the assault and fierce offensive. A grenade hit the middle of the truck with the bulk of the policemen.

The attack was quick and violent. The majority of the policemen fled towards the mountains and bushes. On the floor of the trucks were the bodies of several policemen shattered by the explosions from the missile launchers. The rescue commando entered one of the vehicles where the eight prisoners were chained. One of the policemen tried to use his weapon. One bullet fired by a guerrilla perforated his head. The survivors surrendered and begged forgiveness. They surrendered their weapons and they were allowed to recover their wounded.

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