A soldier was killed and another was wounded in a shootout Sunday with Army of the Paraguayan People, or EPP, guerrillas, Interior Minister Francisco de Vargas said.
The soldier is the first killed by the EPP, De Vargas told Efe.
The firefight occurred in the early morning hours when the Armed Forces Joint Task Force, which is made up of army troops and National Police officers, raided an EPP camp in Arroyito, a town in Concepcion province, De Vargas said.
The four or five guerrillas were alerted to the approach of security forces members at the camp, located about 400 kilometers (248 miles) north of Asuncion, by watch dogs, the interior minister said.
Sgt. Cesar Fernandez was killed and 1st Lt. Mario Avalos was wounded in the firefight.
Avalos is listed in serious condition at a hospital in Concepcion, the provincial capital.
“After the shootout, they fled and the search continues. We are also not ruling out that they have some wounded,” De Vargas said.
This was the first attack staged by the armed forces on the guerrilla group, the interior minister said.
The EPP has now killed 33 people, including police officers and civilians, since 2005, the government said.
President Horacio Cartes’s administration approved several amendments to the National Defense Law in August that opened the way for the deployment of military personnel to fight the EPP in the areas where the group operates.
The EPP is believed to have a presence in the provinces of San Pedro, Concepcion and Amambay, which is on the border with Brazil.
The guerrilla group may have 30 or 40 members, De Vargas said, adding that estimates of the EPP’s numbers were just “speculation.”