Peruvian rebel group leader Abimael Guzman dies at 86

Professor-turned-radical rebel leader Abimael Guzman has died. The Peruvian government said the founder of the Shining Path guerilla group died in his prison cell Saturday morning.

Awed by China’s Cultural Revolution, the lifelong communist launched a class war in 1980, transforming radical students and a band of peasants into Latin America’s most stubborn guerilla force. He led his supporters into the Andes Mountains, leading a bloody Marxist revolution that attacked security forces and officials, among others.

Over two decades, the internal conflict launched by the Shining Path killed roughly 69,000 people.

Captured by police in 1992, he was convicted as a terrorist and was serving two life sentences when he died --- just one day before the anniversary of his capture. Peru’s defense minister said Guzman died of a “generalized infection.”

In a tweet, President Pedro Castillo called him a “terrorist leader” and blamed him for the loss of what he said was an “uncountable number of lives.”

The Shining Path has largely collapsed as a military threat. But remnants remain to this day.

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