In a joint operation, Peru's armed forces and police rescued 39 people, including 26 children and 13 women, who were held by "Shining Path" rebels in the country's VRAEM area, the government announced this week.
The women captives were reportedly held at a camp and raped for the purpose of creating future rebels, while children were held in bondage until coming of age for "active duty."
"The women are made pregnant so that their babies will fill Shining Path's ranks," Deputy Defense Minister Ivan Vega told Canal N television.
"The children are trained to care for coca growing until they are 12 to 14 when they go into Shining Path active duty," Vega said.
The deputy defense minister noted that the rescued children were between the ages of one and 14, adding that some of the elderly "had been kidnaped 25 or 30 years ago."
'No Peruvian slaves'
"The terrorist leader Jorge Quispe Palomino must understand that civilians cannot be subjugated as slaves. There are no Peruvian slaves and the government will not allow it," Vega said, referring to the "Shining Path" leader who goes by the nickname "Comrade Raul."
The rescued women and children will be cared for at the Mazamari military base in Junin while authorities search for possible relatives.
Children without legal guardians will be placed under the care of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations.
Marcela Huaita, minister of women and vulnerable populations, told Canal N that the latest rescue operation has saved the highest number of children under the rebel captivity.
The "Shining Path" rebel group, who continue to operate in the country's jungle terrain in the VRAEM, have been blamed for 69,000 deaths between 1980 and 2000, according to a national truth commission.
ls/jil (AFP, EFE, dpa)