* Pipeline maintenance activities suspended in hot zone
* Sole pipeline crucial to national energy security
* Shining Path kidnapped natural gas workers in April
LIMA, Oct 6 Peru's sole natural gas pipeline was
left without maintenance services on Saturday after Shining Path
rebels destroyed on the ground three helicopters belonging to
the company that runs the pipeline.
The aircraft were used by the company Transportadora de Gas
del Peru, or TGP, to dispatch maintenance workers along the
pipeline in the country's southern jungles.
"This most recent incident, on top of causing the total
suspension of maintenance activities in the conflict zone, makes
it impossible for us to respond to any emergency situation or
incident that could affect transport," TGP said in a statement.
"We trust that the state will provide the resources and take
the steps necessary to reestablish security in the area," it
The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso in Spanish, started a
war to overthrow the state in 1980, and some 70,000 people were
killed in the conflict.
The rebels, now too weak to pose a strategic threat to the
government, went into the cocaine-trafficking business after the
founders of the group were arrested in the early 1990s. The
southeastern valleys where they operate contain natural gas
reserves and pipelines central to the country's energy security.
The guerrilla group captured 36 natural gas workers in
April, later saying they had taken and released the hostages.
Owners of the pipeline company TGP, which carries gas from
Peru's Camisea gas fields, include Argentina's Pluspetrol,
U.S.-based Hunt Oil, South Korea's SK Energy and Suez-Tractebel,
(Reporting By Omar Mariluz; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing
by Eric Walsh)