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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Peru rebels kill 7 in jungle ambush

LIMA, Peru, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Peruvian rebels killed five police officers and two workers from state coca company Enaco in an ambush in the country's cocaine-producing southern jungle, police and officials said on Sunday.

Rebels attacked the vehicle convoy during a police crackdown on illegal coca production, the raw material for cocaine, the second major rebel ambush in Peru this year.

Interior ministry officials declined to blame any group for the attack, but remnants of the Shining Path, which led one of Latin America's bloodiest insurgencies in the 1980s and 1990s, have claimed responsibility for similar attacks on police.

Peru is the world's No. 2 cocaine producer after Colombia and the government says drug production is rising as Colombian and Mexican traffickers take advantage of Peru's lack of policing in remote, coca-growing areas.

Enaco is the only company that is permitted to buy coca to make teas and health foods that are sold legally in Peru.
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