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Shining Path group in Peru frees construction workers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Peruvian militant guerilla group, the Shining Path has released 36 captive construction workers from a Swedish company after holding them captive for five days. The captives had walked "seven hours from the mountains to reach our village," Susano Guillen, lieutenant governor of a town in the southeastern Cusco region, told local radio reporters.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Officials say the workers were kidnapped in the hamlet of Kepashiato, near the country's main natural gas field in the Amazon jungle.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala told reporters that the guerrillas freed the captives as troops and police were closing in. He said no negotiations with the rebels had taken place.

"Seeing themselves surrounded, they released the 36 hostages," Humala said while at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.

Humala said the operations by security forces will continue until they track down the kidnappers. Peruvian television showed images of the freed men waving to the camera and praying. Climbing aboard Army helicopters, the workers showed signs of fatigue.

Freed hostage Rigoberto Muniz told TV channel N that the workers had been in the wilderness and were fed once a day, usually noodle soup - but said that the rebels hadn't mistreated them.

Ronald Pacheco, another of the workers, told RPP that the rebels "freed us at 4 in the morning, told us we could go and pointed out the way back." The workers didn't know why the rebels had abducted them.

Guillen said the 36 men walked into town wearing orange work clothes, having hiked about seven hours to reach the town. "They arrived at 11 in the morning, and we were surprised to see them arrive," Guillen said.

"We gave them water because they were hungry and thirsty. Then they left for the town of Kiteni." Guillen said many of their relatives were there.

Officials said that the rebels were demanding a $10 million ransom.

Peruvian President Humala said that officials had explained to the workers' employers that "the government's policy is not to negotiate with kidnappers, and we won't permit a company to stray from that policy.

"This has been an impeccable operation. Nothing has been ceded to these criminal terrorists," the president said.

Three police officers and two soldiers were killed during the search, a military official reported. He declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The government had previously confirmed that one police officer was killed last week when a helicopter involved in the search was attacked with gunfire. Humala did not give details about casualties.

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