‘Nationwide chaos’: Deadly Peru protests spread to the capital

Lima: Dozens of Peruvians were injured after tensions flared again on Friday night as police clashed with protesters in anti-government demonstrations that are spreading across the country.

More than 40 people have already died since the unrest began on December 7 when president Pedro Castillo was ousted after attempting to dissolve Congress to prevent an impeachment vote.

An anti-government protesters who traveled to the capital from across the country to march against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, is detained and thrown on the back of police vehicle during clashes in Lima.Credit:AP

In the capital Lima, police officers used tear gas to repel demonstrators throwing glass bottles and stones, as fires burnt in the streets, local TV footage showed.

In the country’s southern Puno region, some 1500 protesters attacked a police station in the town of Ilave, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said in a statement to news media.

A police station in Zepita, Puno, was also on fire, Romero said.

Health authorities in Ilave reported eight patients hospitalised with injuries, including broken arms and legs, eye contusions and punctured abdomens.

By late afternoon, 58 people had been injured nationwide in the demonstrations, according to a report from the country’s ombudsman.

People aid a man injured during anti-government protests Arequipa, Peru.Credit:AP

The unrest followed a day of turmoil on Thursday, when one of Lima’s most historic buildings burnt to the ground and President Dina Boluarte vowed to get tougher on “vandals”.

The destruction of the building, a near-century-old mansion in the city centre, was described by officials as the loss of a “monumental asset”. Authorities are investigating the causes.

Romero claimed the blaze was “duly planned and arranged”.

A building burns amid anti-government protests in downtown Lima, Peru, on Thursday.Credit:AP

Thousands of protesters descended on Lima this week calling for change and angered by the protests’ mounting death toll, which officially stood at 45 on Friday.

The unrest had until this week been concentrated in Peru’s south.

In the Cusco region, Glencore’s major Antapaccay copper mine suspended operations on Friday after protesters attacked the premises – one of the largest in the country – for the third time this month. Swiss-based Glencore is Australia’s largest coal miner.

A woman waves a Peruvian flag during an anti-government protest in Lima on Friday.Credit:AP

Airports in Arequipa, the southern city of Juliaca and Cusco – gateway to Machu Picchu – were also attacked by demonstrators, delivering a fresh blow to Peru’s tourism industry. Australians were among hundreds of tourists stranded as the protests erupted near the popular Incan ruins.

“It’s nationwide chaos, you can’t live like this. We are in a terrible uncertainty – the economy, vandalism,” said Lima resident Leonardo Rojas.

‘My president’: Supporters of former president Pedro Castillo protest his arrest in Lima on December 9.Credit:Bloomberg

The government has extended a state of emergency to six regions, curtailing some civil rights.

But Boluarte has dismissed calls for her to resign and hold snap elections, instead calling for dialogue and promising to punish those involved in the unrest.

“All the rigour of the law will fall on those people who have acted with vandalism,” Boluarte said.

Some locals pointed the finger at Boluarte, accusing her of not acting to quell the protests. Some say Castillo is their rightful president.

Human rights groups have accused the police and army of using deadly firearms. The police say protesters have used weapons and homemade explosives.

Reuters

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