According to a statement released on Monday by the Peruvian armed forces, the group carried out the massacres in an area known as VRAEM (Valle de los Rios Apurimac, Ene y Mantaro) on the night of May 23, burning some of the bodies of the victim.
“This type of action [massacre] is qualified by the terrorist organization of “social cleansing” and was carried out with firearms “, indicates the military statement.
Shining Path did not claim responsibility for the attack.
A leaflet warning people not to vote or spoil the ballot in the country’s second round of presidential elections on June 6 was also found at the site of the attack, according to the military statement.
Authorities say they are investigating the motives for the attack.
The two presidential candidates – socialist Pedro Castillo and conservative Keiko Fujimori – denounced the attack.
Castillo has previously denied having any connection to the Shining Path or Movadef, an affiliate group.
Sunday’s incident follows a particularly difficult year for Peru, which is reeling from Latin America’s highest coronavirus death rate per capita. A spate of corruption scandals also left voters in the political class disgusted.
Peruvians first went to the polls in April, where they were asked to choose the country’s fifth president in just four years.
Voting is compulsory, but more than a quarter of respondents polled before the first vote said they intended to leave their vote blank, did not know who they would vote for or choose none of the candidates, poll found of opinion. published on April 4 by the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP) for the Peruvian newspaper La Republica.
The turnout was 70.2% in the first ballot, according to the National Election Office (ONPE).
Sagasti said the bloody incident will not affect the upcoming second ballot. “This does not threaten the holding of the elections at all. Members of the national police and armed forces are already being deployed, as they have been throughout the electoral process, ”he said on Monday, according to the official Andina news agency.
“The most important thing is that the will of the people – expressed in the ballot box – is respected,” he said.
Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group known in Spanish as Sendero Luminoso, was active in the 80s and 90s but began to fade after its founder, Abimael Guzman, known as Camarada Gonzalo, was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992.
The group declared war on the government in 1980, carrying out bombings and assassinations that, according to official reports, killed more than 30,000 Peruvians over the next 20 years. An additional 30,000 Peruvians have died at the hands of the government and paramilitary groups in the fight against the group, a government commission said in 2003.
In the countryside of central and southern Peru, where the rebels were strongest, the Shining Path carried out an assassination campaign against government officials, heads of state-owned agricultural collectives, landowners. companies and even peasants who opposed the guerrillas. Political rivals, including other Marxists and leftists, were not immune either.
The group also carried out daring attacks in the capital, Lima, where it blew up power transmission towers, causing power outages throughout the city, bombed factories and set off explosives near government offices and in the city. inside the political headquarters of the ruling party. An attack on Tarata, a residential street in the Peruvian capital, was the group’s deadliest assault.
CNN’s Sharif Paget and Jack Guy contributed reporting.