Peru's president declares state of emergency in six jungle provinces

Peru's president declared a state of emergency in six jungle provinces and promised to stamp out the nation's remaining Shining Path guerrillas after suspected rebels killed eight police officers in an ambush. "They will pay. My government is prepared to provide everything that our police and our armed forces need professionally," President Alejandro Toledo said Wednesday in a speech at a police barracks in Lima. "The eight officers fell at the cowardly hands of terrorists who today are in the service of drug trafficking."

Later, Toledo decreed a two-month state of emergency in six coca-producing provinces in the central jungle and said his Cabinet had also approved the creation of an emergency commission to bring urgently needed social development to the area. "This supreme decree will allow the armed forces and the police to jointly enter and take action in this zone for 60 days," Toledo said in an address aired on state-run television.

The goal, he said, was to provide "a greater state presence, within the law, respecting human rights." Under Peruvian law, a state of emergency suspends civil rights, such as the right to assembly, and gives police and the military sweeping powers to enter homes and conduct searches.

The attack by an estimated 20 guerrillas occurred Tuesday on an isolated jungle highway near the town of Aucayacu in Leoncio Prado province, 225 miles northeast of the capital, authorities said. Leoncio Prado province is one of the zones included in the state of emergency.

Toledo's government says cocaine traffickers have re-established ties with remnants of the Maoist insurgency to thwart Peru's programs to eradicate coca, the raw material for cocaine.

The Shining Path almost brought Peru's government to its knees in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, political assassinations, bombings and sabotage. But the group faded dramatically after the 1992 capture of its founder, Abimael Guzman, reports the AP. I.L.

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