Peru indefinitely postpones crop destruction in top coca-producing valley

Peru's president says he is indefinitely postponing plans to forcibly eradicate coca fields in the world's top cocaine-producing valley.

Ollanta Humala's Sunday night announcement comes a week after he fired drug czar Carmen Masias. She announced in January that militarized eradication would begin this year in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantauro river valley.

Critics said that would only help drug-funded Shining Path rebels based in the region turn coca-growers against authorities, with violent results.

Humala said that while he is not ruling out forced eradication, he wants to first try crop substitution.

An estimated 12,000 families live off coca in the valley, where authorities say more than 300 labs produce semi-refined cocaine, most of it destined for Europe.