Peru policeman alive after rebel clashes in jungle

A Peruvian police officer who went missing more than two weeks ago during clashes with leftist Shining Path rebels in the south of the country has been found alive, the interior ministry has said.

"Luis Astuquillca Vasquez, of the National Police, has surfaced safe and sound in the town of Kiteni, near Echarate in La Convencion province of the Cusco region," on Sunday, a ministry statement said.

Local people had joined authorities in the search for him, the statement said, while also hailing the policeman's survival skills.

Authorities are still searching for Cesar Vilca Vega, the other officer who went missing in the same fighting with insurgents in the VRAE region, shorthand for the Ene and Apurimac River Valley.

The two police officers went missing on April 12 during a search in the jungles of southeastern Peru for 36 workers employed by a Swedish company and a Peruvian firm who had been abducted by the Maoist rebels.

The workers were eventually freed after five days in captivity.

A Shining Path leader later claimed to have killed the police officers.

"Since they were resisting, we annihilated them," Martin Quispe Palomino said, speaking to a regional television station in a remote, mountainous area of the Andes which serves as a stronghold for what remains of the group.

The Maoist-inspired insurgency was largely dismantled when its leaders were captured in the mid-1990s, ending a conflict that left 70,000 people dead, according to Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

However, remnants of the Shining Path still operate in remote regions of the country.


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