Leftist rebel group Shining Path in Peru killed at least 14 people, including two children, in a remote mountainous region, according to the military on May 24.
The May 23 massacre occurred in the Valle de los Rios Apurimac, Ene y Mantaro region in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, the joint command of Peru’s Armed Forces said in a statement, describing it as “an act of genocide.”
The military placed the death toll at 14 while Police Chief Cesar Cervantes had earlier told local television channel N that the rebel group killed 18 people.
“It is likely there will be more deaths,” Cervantes told RPP Radio.
The victims had not been identified as some of the bodies had been burned beyond recognition, the military said.
The military said that Shining Path, which the government has regarded as terrorists, had previously called such attacks as a form of “social cleansing.”
According to reports, pamphlets attributed to the rebels were scattered at the scene of the massacre, urging Peruvians to boycott the June 6 presidential election.
The pamphlets reportedly also warned that those who would vote for Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned 1990s strongman Alberto, would be branded as a “traitor.”
The military, however, assured the public in a statement of “a secure electoral process.”
Peruvian President Francisco Sagasti condemned the massacre and said he ordered the deployment of patrols of the Armed Forces “so that this terrorist action does not go unpunished.”
Leftist leader Pedro Castillo, who is running against Fujimori and whose Peru Libre party is alleged of having members linked to Shining Path, also condemned the massacre.
“I urge justice to apply the full weight of the law. We will not tolerate any act of violence,” Castillo stated.
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