Lima – A soldier was killed and five others were wounded when guerrillas ambushed an army vehicle in La Mar, a province in Peru's southern Ayacucho region, while seven others were wounded when rebels attacked a helicopter in the same area, the armed forces Joint Command said.
Army Spc. Leoncio Mendoza, who was driving the vehicle, died in Monday's attack, another soldier sustained a gunshot wound four others were injured.
The soldiers, who were providing security for a field hospital, were ambushed around 2:00 p.m., the armed forces Joint Command said.
A helicopter taking part in the search for the guerrillas who ambushed the vehicle was attacked later in the day, leaving seven soldiers wounded.
The helicopter was hit near Centro Poblado de Machente, a town in La Mar, the armed forces Joint Command said.
The air force helicopter was attacked while dropping off special forces soldiers.
Maj. Victor Phillips del Castillo sustained gunshot wounds and six other soldiers were hit by shrapnel, the armed forces Joint Command said.
Armed forces personnel and National Police officers are patrolling the area with support from helicopters, the command said.
The attacks occurred a day after businessman and retired army Col. Oscar Valdes was sworn in as the new head of the Council of Ministers.
Valdes, who served as interior minister until Saturday, has ruled out the possibility of negotiating with the remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group.
"Comrade Artemio," one of the leaders of the Shining Path, acknowledged in an interview posted by IDL-Reporteros on its Web site last week that his insurgent group had been defeated by the government and called on officials to begin a dialogue for a peace agreement.
Comrade Artemio said in an interview granted to journalists Gustavo Gorriti and Romina Mella on Dec. 1 that the war declared against the state more than 30 years ago had ended in defeat.
"Yes, it is true. We are not going to deny it," Comrade Artemio, who commands the rebels in the Upper Huallaga Valley, said.
The group still has the same "political objectives," but "in practice that's not possible today," the rebel commander said.
Artemio told the reporters that his real name was Jose "Pepe" Flores Hala and he was born 47 years ago in Camana, a town in the southern department of Arequipa.
The rebel leader proposed a "military truce" with the government to open the way for negotiations.
The Shining Path's remnants operate in the coca-growing Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region under Victor Quispe Palomino, alias "Comrade Jose," and in the Upper Huallaga Valley under the command of Comrade Artemio.
The rebels have joined forces with drug cartels and producers of illegal coca, the raw material for cocaine, officials say.
The government has made the elimination of the Shining Path's remnants a priority.
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 Guzman, known to his fanatic followers as "President Gonzalo," was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the "defeat" of the insurgency.
The guerrilla leader, who was a professor of philosophy at San Cristobal University before initiating his armed struggle in the Andean city of Ayacucho, once predicted that 1 million Peruvians would probably have to die in the ushering-in of the new state envisioned by Shining Path.
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."
The Shining Path's remnants did not comply with Guzman's order more than a decade ago to end the armed struggle, and he does not recognize them as members of the group.