LIMA, Sept 14 — A suspected Shining Path guerrilla was killed in clashes with soldiers and police in a remote coca leaf growing region of Peru’s high jungle, the country’s military said yesterday.

The Shining Path spread terror in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s and was largely destroyed by the 2000s, but a rump group fled to the mountainous eastern slopes of Peru’s Andes and authorities say they work as hired guns for drug traffickers growing coca, the source plant of cocaine.

Armed forces and police members killed “a criminal terrorist of comrade Pucanahui’s column” in a clash in the central jungle region of Junin, Peru’s military said via Twitter.

The area is a known coca growing region between the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers known by the acronym VRAEM. Peru, along with Colombia and Bolivia, are the world’s top growers of coca leaf.

Weapons and communication gear was taken from the enemy, the statement read.

This is the first such attack since leftist President Pedro Castillo took office on July 28.

The founder and former leader of the brutal Shining Path guerrillas, Abimael Guzman, died Saturday while serving time in a maximum security prison near Lima. He was 86.

Peruvian officials have yet to say if they will release Guzman’s body to a person assigned by his wife for burial, or cremate the remains and spread the ashes in the sea lest his grave become a rallying point for supporters.

Several right-wing politicians, deeply mistrustful of the Castillo administration, yesterday demanded to be allowed to see the body — held under guard in a city morgue — to confirm Guzman’s death. — AFP