The Peruvian government yesterday announced that there will be no official negotiations over the fate of 36 hostages, who were kidnapped on Monday by a branch of the Maoist rebel group Sendero Luminoso in a rural area of the south-central department of Cuzco. The rebel group in a communique earlier this week demanded a $10 million ransom in exchange for the hostages’ release. According to local reports, 29 of the 26 victims are Peruvian employees of Swedish construction giant Skanska.
The Peruvian government has deployed 1,500 soldiers in the affected zone with the intention of cordoning off the area and has set up a joint command with national police in the area. In a statement Thursday, Minister of Justice Juan Jiménez said, “The government does not negotiate with terrorists, the government acts according to the law…There is a security operation in the affected area to rescue these victims alive.” Skanska officials contacted in Lima on Thursday refused to comment on whether the company was prepared to negotiate for the hostages.
The ongoing hostage crisis is the worst episode of violence connected to Sendero Luminoso since the February capture of rebel leader alias Comrade Artemio, who was wounded after clashing with Peruvian troops. President Ollanta Humala said after the capture that it marked the near defeat of Sendero. This week’s events could have political implications for Humala, who may be hesitant to authorize aggressive action until a formal complaint filed by human rights groups with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is resolved.