"Missionaries Shot Down in Peru, Mother and Infant Killed"
The story has been on the front page of newspapers around the country this weekend, but news continues to circulate about the Peruvian military's shooting of a plane full of American missionaries. Veronica "Roni" Bowers, 35, and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, were killed in the attack. The pilot, Kevin Donaldson, was injured. (Ron Bowers, Roni's husband, and their son, Cory, were also aboard.)
Why the attack? The Peruvian air force, acting on information from a CIA-operated surveillance plane, believed the missionaries were actually drug runners. The Peruvian military says the plane never filed a flight plan and that it did not respond to demands that it land. Bad move. The missionaries' agency, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), posted the flight plan on its Web site this morning. "We feel certainly that someone should have known about that flight," ABWE president Michael Loftis said on today's Good Morning America. "The pilot was in radio contact with the tower at the time the shooting began. The tower people heard that and were aware of what was going on over the radio."
Phil Bowers, Ron's brother, is even more vehement in his denials of the Peruvian version of events. "We've got hundreds of witnesses from the shore, Peruvians who were watching from the village of Huanta," he says. "Why didn't [the military plane] call and check the registration? Sounds like a bunch of vigilante hot-shot pilots. Either that or someone higher up ordered the pilots to shoot."
Right now, the political situation is in a holding pattern. President Bush called the shooting "a terrible tragedy" and the U.S. government has suspended anti-drug surveillance flights, ...