LIMA - Rebels killed five army officers and injured five soldiers, the armed forces said on Thursday - the latest setback in President Ollanta Humala's push to regain control of restive regions rife with cocaine trafficking.
The armed forces said it did not know if rebels suffered any casualties during the shootout in the knotty bundle of jungle valleys known as the VRAE, which is the most productive growing area in the world's top coca producer.
Rebels often catch soldiers in ambushes when they venture outside their fortified bases. Counterinsurgency experts have criticized the government's security strategy as flawed, saying it is too predictable. Humala has cycled through at least three defense ministers since taking office a year ago.
So far this year, 17 soldiers and police have died in shootouts with rebels. More than 50 soldiers and police died in ambushes during the term of Humala's predecessor, Alan Garcia.