Photo: Father of policeman Cesar Vilca
The father of policeman Cesar Vilca, missing for 20 days after his unit came under attack by suspected guerrillas, found his son’s dead body in the jungles of southern Peru, local media reported.
Dionisio Vilca arrived Wednesday night in the remote town of Kiteni, Cuzco region, carrying the corpse of his son. He had begun his search in the Alto Lagunas area after saying authorities had halted their efforts.
According to Canal N television, the man was accompanied only by two guides and was not wearing any special protective gear.
Vilca returned from his search around 9:00 p.m. and walked into the military command headquarters set up in Kiteni to speak with National Police Gen. Salvador Iglesias, head of that force’s special operations division.
According to the online edition of the La Republica daily, Vilca told the general how he found his son’s body, which was being kept at a clinic in Kiteni.
Vilca had complained that the military and police command in Cusco’s Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region had ceased looking for his son after another member of his unit turned up alive last weekend.
Cesar Vilca, a 22-year-old non-commissioned officer, entered the jungles of the VRAE three weeks ago along with other members of his unit as part of a search for 36 gas workers being held captive by an armed column led by erstwhile Shining Path guerrillas.
But the helicopter that had dropped the police off in the jungle flew away when it came under gunfire by the armed group.
One of Vilca’s fellow police, Lander Tamani, died in the clash, while the other, non-commissioned officer Luis Astuquillca, turned up alive last weekend in a village near Kiteni.
Astuquillca told his superiors that Vilca had been badly wounded in the leg and that he saw him convulsing before they separated more than a week ago.
The parents of Vilca and Astuquillca had traveled to the VRAE to monitor the search for their sons.
An armed group that calls itself the “militarized Communist Party of Peru” and has disavowed any affinity with the Shining Path and its former leaders operates in the VRAE.
Two weeks ago, several members of the group, including leader Martin Quispe Palomino, known as “Gabriel,” made contact with reporters who traveled to the region of Cuzco to cover the mass abduction.
Gabriel told the journalists the abduction of the gas workers, who were released on April 14 amid clashes with special forces units, was meant to “unmask this old system of exploitation and oppression.”
He said his group will continue targeting the security forces and “confiscate their weapons to extend fighting capacity.”
Media outlets have reported that Gabriel is the younger brother of Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino, who authorities say are the leaders of the Shining Path faction based in the VRAE, where the mass kidnapping took place.
The reporters’ encounter with Gabriel and his comrades came amid what Defense Minister Alberto Otarola described as “a fight without quarter” against guerrillas in southern Peru.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.
A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.
The guerrilla group, according to commission estimates, also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses.
Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the “defeat” of the insurgency.
The group became notorious for some of its innovations, such as blowing apart with dynamite the bodies of community service workers its members killed, or hanging stray canines from lampposts as warnings to “capitalist dogs.”