April 9, 2016 / 7:03 PM / 2 years ago

Three killed in suspected rebel attack ahead of Peru election

LIMA (Reuters) - Three people were killed and six injured in an attack staged by suspected leftist Shining Path rebels on the eve of Peru’s presidential election, authorities said.

Peruvian soldiers patrol a polling station after election workers of Peru's National Office of Electoral Processes (ONPE) leave voting materials, in Surco, ahead of Sunday's presidential election, in Lima, April 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

The attack, in a remote coca-growing region of the Andean nation, occurred early on Saturday as military officials transported materials for the election, the head of Peru’s armed forces, Jorge Moscoso, told a news conference.

Two of the deaths were military personnel while the third was a civilian driver, and efforts were still ongoing to secure the area, he said.

The Maoist-inspired Shining Path guerrilla group was largely dismantled in the 1990s, but hundreds of insurgents still control swaths of a jungle-covered region of Peru known for its production of coca, the raw material for cocaine.

“This is a sign that more still needs to be done,” outgoing president and former army officer Ollanta Humala said. “Terrorists are no longer a threat to the Peruvian state but they have shown they can still cause harm.”

Peruvians will vote on Sunday in the fourth presidential election since the end of a decade-long battle between insurgents and state security forces commanded by former President Alberto Fujimori that claimed an estimated 69,000 lives.

Fujimori is now serving a 25-year sentence for ordering death squads to massacre civilians in his crackdown on rebels.

The legacy of the conflict - one of Latin America’s bloodiest - has surfaced in this year’s presidential race as Peruvians who credit Fujimori with stamping out the Shining Path rally behind his daughter, front-runner Keiko Fujimori.

Keiko Fujimori is the clear favorite in Sunday’s election but is not expected to win outright with a simple majority. She has marketed herself as the candidate who is toughest on crime..

Reporting by Mitra Taj and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Tom Brown and Matthew Lewis

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