Several explosive charges were removed by military bomb experts on the Camisea pipeline in the southeastern Peruvian region of Cuzco, the Armed Forces Joint Command said Monday.

Joint army and National Police patrols launched an operation Saturday in the area around the pipeline, which is operated by Transportadora de Gas del Peru, or TGP, to evaluate damage caused by a guerrilla attack last October on the duct.

Security forces members deployed in Komesiato, a town in the Echarate district of La Convencion province, found six explosive charges.

The charges had been placed next to valve on the pipeline.

Explosives experts disarmed five of the charges and detonated a sixth device, the Armed Forces Joint Command said in a statement.

An armed group burned three helicopters belonging to a company that provides services to the Camisea gas consortium on Oct. 6 in Kiteni, a district in Cuzco region, but no one was hurt in the attack.

The rebels may have staged the attack because the company failed to pay protection money, media reports said.

The Shining Path guerrilla group is suspected of being behind the attack on the helicopters at a remote air strip.

The Special Command for the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro Rivers, or VRAEM, region in southern Peru has been battling the remnants of the rebel group.

The Shining Path operates in the coca-growing VRAEM region under Victor Quispe Palomino, known as "Comrade Jose."

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.

The Camisea consortium is producing natural gas from Peru's largest fields.

The Camisea fields hold some of Latin America's largest natural gas reserves.

Camisea's proven reserves total some 8.7 trillion cubic feet.

The Camisea consortium is made up of Spain's Repsol, Argentina's Pluspetrol and Tecpetrol, U.S.-based Hunt Oil, South Korea's SK Energy and Algeria's Sonatrach. EFE