Maoist guerrilla group active in Peru, formed 1980 to overthrow the government; until 1988 its activity was confined to rural areas. From 1992 its attacks intensified in response to a government crackdown. By 1997 the 17-year war had caused 30,000 deaths. In 1999 the movement was believed to have fewer than 1,000 fighters.
The guerrillas have been known to attack projects supported by aid agencies, accusing the workers and peasants involved of cooperating with neocolonialists. In 1992 they stepped up their campaign in response to a crackdown imposed by Peruvian president Fujimori, which led to the arrest of their leader, Abimael Guzman Reynoso (1934– ), along with other leading members of the group. Guzman, known as Presidente Gonzalo, was sentenced to life imprisonment in October, as were those arrested alongside him. During 1993 victims of attacks included mayoral candidates in the run-up to local elections (100 withdrew because of death threats) and Amazonian Indians opposed to the group's expansionist aims in the region. During 1994, more than 6,000 of the organization's guerrillas surrendered to the authorities. However, in 1997 it regrouped under the leadership of Oscar Durand (Comrade Feliciano) to launch a new wave of terrorist violence.
After an extensive search, the army in July 1999 captured Ramirez Durand. His arrest was another blow to the Shining Path movement which had up to 10,000 fighters in the early 1990s, but was now believed to have fewer than 1,000.