April 9, 2016 / 7:03 PM / a year ago

Three killed in suspected rebel attack ahead of Peru election

2 Min Read

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.Mariana Bazo

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.

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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