Suspected Shining Path rebels ambushed a police patrol in a drug-smuggling zone in southern Peru on Sunday, killing three police officers with submachine guns and injuring one, officials said.
The highway police were patrolling a known drug-smuggling route in Ayacucho province when attackers opened fire on their vehicle from both sides of a highway at 2:30 a.m., according to a police statement, CNN reported.
One officer died in the attack, two died from gunshot wounds in a hospital and the fourth was in critical condition, police said.
Interior Minister Remigio Hernani told Lima-based RPP radio that "narcoterrorists are suspected in the attack." Peruvian authorities use the term "narcoterrorism" to refer to an alliance between remnants of the Shining Path rebel group and drug traffickers, who pay the rebels for protection.
Hernani suggested the attackers may have been retaliating for police seizures of drugs.
The leftist Shining Path nearly brought Peru's government to its knees in the 1980s and 1990s. It carried out its deadliest attack in over a decade last month, killing 13 soldiers and two civilians in an ambush in nearby Huancavelica province.