Terrorism is much less of a problem in Peru these days than it was in the 1980s and 1990s. You can get up-to-date information on the situation in each region from the South American Explorers’ Club, Peruvian Embassies abroad or your embassy in Lima. There are two main terrorist groups active in Peru – the Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru (MRTA).
The Sendero Luminoso sprang from rural Quechua dissidents and educated middle classes originally operating mainly in the central highlands and Lima. These days their influence has waned enormously and, apart from the occasional car bomb in Lima, their paramilitary activities are by and large restricted to certain areas of the jungle and to a lesser extent the remote areas of the central highland region. They have a reputation for ruthless and violent tactics, sweeping away all left-wing and popular resistance to their aims and methods by the rule of the gun. When their leader Guzman was captured in 1992, the movement began to fade fast, and with the capture of their number two Feliciano, in 1999, it appears for now that their activities are limited almost exclusively to narco-terrorism (cocaine producing and smuggling) in the Alto Huallaga valley. This area – basically the region and road between Tingo Maria and Tarapoto – should still be avoided at all costs. It’s often difficult to distinguish between drug trafficking and terrorism in certain places, and much of the coca-growing area of the eastern Andes and western Amazon is beyond the law.
The Tupac Amaru , on the other hand, have a slightly more populist image, focusing on military or political targets. They rose to prominence at Christmas 1996 when they took hostages at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, but this ended fatally for the terrorists and took the wind out of their sails quite severely. Incidents these days are very rare; they might still stop the odd bus in remote jungle areas, but they’re more likely to ask for a “voluntary” contribution than execute the passengers on political grounds. So far, although tourists have been killed, neither group has resorted to taking foreigners hostage and tourists are not considered political targets. Keep to the beaten track, keep yourself well informed, travel in the daytime, and you should be safe.

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