(Bloomberg) -- The remains of terrorist leader Abimael Guzman were cremated by Peruvian authorities at dawn on Friday and his ashes dispersed at an undisclosed location.

Guzman, who founded the Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path, died Sept. 11 at the age of 86 after three decades in jail, and his death plunged the country into a polarizing debate over the fate of his remains. The cremation took place at a facility in Lima, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The government denied a request from his widow, Elena Iparraguirre -- second in command of the Shining Path and herself serving a lifetime sentence in prison -- to return his corpse to her for burial. By scattering his ashes at a secret location, the government sought to prevent a known burial site from becoming a shrine for his followers and other extremists.

Last week, congress approved legislation granting the Prosecutor’s Office jurisdiction over the remains of terrorists who die in prison. President Pedro Castillo signed the law.

Guzman’s legacy is especially toxic at present since some members of Castillo’s administration have been accused by opponents of sympathizing with the guerrilla group, a charge they all deny. 

The Shining Path murdered tens of thousands of Peruvians in the 1980s and 1990s when it fought the army, assassinated opponents, planted car bombs and massacred civilians.

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