Peru Greets New Year in Darkness as Rebels Sabotage Power Sources

From Times Wire Services

Midnight sabotage attacks against electric power facilities caused blackouts in Lima and in towns along a 750-mile stretch of Peru's Pacific coast Friday at the peak of New Year's celebrations.

Police officials and Electro-Peru, the state power company, blamed the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas for the attacks. A police spokesman said that about 300 suspects were being questioned from among some 2,500 people arrested overnight at road blocks.

The sabotage that rang in the New Year blacked out much of metropolitan Lima plus portions of nine of Peru's 24 states. Cities and towns along a broad swath of the Pacific coastal region and in the central Andes were affected, Electro-Peru spokesman Jose Acevedo said.

Radio broadcasts reported the northern city of Trujillo, and the port city of of Callao among other cities without electricity.

Restoration of power came slowly, and most of the area was still blacked out by late afternoon Friday.

The attacks were concentrated on pylons carrying high-power lines in the mountains east of Lima.

In Lima, radio stations reported that the blackout forced crowded movie theaters and restaurants to close, turning celebrants out into the streets where the lack of traffic lights added to the usual problems associated with driving on New Year's Eve. Firemen responsed to 44 emergency calls, including the release of people trapped in elevators as well as for small fires, a spokeswoman for the department said.

The Shining Path guerrillas are one of two rebel groups operating in Peru, and they have previously caused dozens of power blackouts, though they rarely claim credit for any action. The oth1701978226Revolutionary Movement, which backs a Cuban style of Marxism.

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