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Peru orders weapons from North Korea

LIMA, Peru -- Authorities admitted Wednesday that a shipment of 10,000 North Korean rifles and ammunition that arrived in Peru with false documents had been ordered by the government.

The government of President Alan Garcia had ordered the AKM 65 automatic rifles to outfit police to fight Maoist Shining Path rebels, an Interior Ministry statement said.

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An opposition magazine, Oiga, revealed the arms shipment earlier this month and accused the populist Garcia government of importing the weapons under false labels to equip ruling-party paramilitary squads.

Shipping documents identified the weapons as 'batteries and accessories,' the magazine reported.

North Korea had asked that the weapons contract and shipping documents be falsified 'as a security measure for their maritime shipment,' the statement said.

The shipment is the second bought by Peru from North Korea. The two nations engage in trade but do not have diplomatic relations.

The Garcia government initially purchased 10,000 rifles from North Korea in late 1985 after soliciting bids from major arms manufacturers around the world. North Korea offered to sell the rifles for less than $100 each.

The Interior Ministry declined to say how much the government paid for the new purchase of 10,000 rifles and 10 million rounds of 7.62mm bullets.

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The weapons arrived in the port of Callao Feb. 29 aboard the state merchant marine ship Sabogal, the statement said.

Authorities have distributed the rifles to the Civil Guard, uniformed police and plain-clothes detectives assigned to combat left-wing rebels.

The Shining Path, a communist insurgency that surfaced in 1980, is fighting for a worker-peasant state modeled after the China of the late communist leader Mao Tse-tung.

The group believes it is the vanguard of world revolution and has no known ties with communist regimes in North Korea or elsewhere.

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