Shining Path demand $10m for 40 workers

2012-04-10 23:01

Lima - Suspected Shining Path rebels are seeking a $10m ransom for 40 Peruvian construction workers at an Amazon jungle natural gas plant who they abducted in a pre-dawn raid, the regional mayor said on Tuesday.

Mayor Fedia Castro of Convencion said  reports from police that most of the workers abducted early on Monday were later freed were erroneous .

She told The Associated Press by telephone that the abductees worked for two companies and that the kidnappers who seized them in the small hamlet of Kepashiato in the Camisea gas fields were demanding the ransom.

A spokesperson for the Swedish construction company Skanska, Edvard Lind, said 29 of the abducted workers were Skanska employees. He said from Sweden that the kidnappers freed two female workers on Monday.

Lind said he had no information on the kidnappers or whether they were seeking a ransom.

Castro said the workers were rounded up before dawn on Monday by armed kidnappers from their hotels and driven away. She said no shots were fired.

"The SUVs [later] returned with a nurse and a female doctor" and the ransom demand," she said, which in addition to the ransom included an annual $1.2m payment.

The abducted workers were building a new gas treatment plant on which work began last year, Lind said.

Maoist group

The AP sought comment from police officials in the region on Tuesday but could not immediately reach anyone who said they had accurate information about the abduction.

Such mass abductions are rare in Peru but Monday's kidnapping could signal a growing threat from the Shining Path.

The cocaine-trade funded rebel band is only a small remnant of the fanatical Maoist group that terrorised Peru in the 1980s-1990s.

It is believed to only number about 300 to 500 fighters and is centred in the Ene and Apurimac Valley region where more than half of Peru's coca crop grows. In recent months, it has expanded attacks outside that area, including in the adjacent region where Monday's kidnapping occurred.

Since 2008, more than 50 Peruvian troops have been killed in Shining Path attacks.

The insurgency has not committed a mass abduction since 2003, when it seized 60 workers of the Argentine company Techint working on a Camisea pipeline.

They were freed two days later, and officials said no ransom was paid.

Read more on:    peru  |  abductions

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