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Lima Blast Tied To Rebels

A bomb exploded in downtown Lima on Wednesday near the national elections board, injuring four police officers, a woman and her infant daughter, television and news reports said.

Media reports said it was an apparent strike by the Shining Path guerrilla insurgency.

Cable news station Canal N broadcast images of police cordoning off the site of the blast, which shattered windows and blew a hole in the shutters of a closed storefront. The explosion occurred on the same block as the National Election Board building.

Canal N reported that the woman and her 6-month-old daughter were at a nearby hospital, where they were being treated for minor injuries.

In the backpack that carried the bomb, police recovered pamphlets bearing the symbol of a red hammer and sickle and proclaiming "Long live the popular revolution" and "Long live President Gonzalo," Canal N and CPN radio reported.

President Gonzalo was the nom de guerre of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, who was arrested in 1992 and is serving a life sentence without parole in a maximum security naval prison.

The once-feared movement suffered a severe blow in July 1999 when its national leader, Oscar Ramirez Durand, was captured. Attacks by the group are infrequent. Ramirez Durand is now serving a life sentence at the same prison as Guzman.

Guzman recently went on hunger strike, demanding a re-trial in civilian court, but reportedly ended the campaign after authorities agreed to provide more lenient prison conditions.

Some 30,000 people have died since 1980s as a result of rebel violence, most of them civilians caught in the crossfire between guerrillas and security forces.

According to the Terrorism Research Center, Shining Path — "considered by many to be the most dangerous and violent terrorist organization in the world" — began its campaign in 1980 and has killed 10,000 to 12,000 people.

"The goal of this organization is the destruction of the existing Peruvian government in favor of an Indian-run socialist system," the research center says in a profile.

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