Two Peruvian policemen were killed in an ambush on Wednesday by suspected drug traffickers in a remote Andean coca growing region, a regional police chief said on local radio.
The deaths come a week after Peru announced security forces would enter criminally controlled coca-growing areas for the first time as part of a plan to eradicate half the country’s supply of the leaf used to make cocaine.
The police chief said the deaths occurred in Luricocha district in a region known as the VRAEM, where traffickers have formed alliances with remnant bands of Shining Path rebels and about 75 percent of Peru’s coca is grown.
“They were returning from a road patrol when they were ambushed by alleged drug traffickers; there were six to eight attackers,” Alexis Bahamonde, head of police in the VRAEM, said on RPP radio.
Peru and Andean neighbor Colombia are the world’s biggest cocaine producers, according to the United Nations.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Sandra Maler)