After tensions escalated once again Friday night, police clashed in an anti-government protest that is spreading across Peru. Dozens were hurt.
Local TV footage shows that tear gas was used by police in Lima to disperse demonstrators who were throwing stones and glass bottles at them, while street fires erupted.
In the country’s southern Puno region, some 1,500 protesters attacked a police station in the town of Ilave, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said in a statement to news media.
Romero stated that a Puno police station was also set on fire.
Eight patients were admitted to Ilave’s hospital with severe injuries. These included broken legs and arms, punctured abdomens, and eye contusions.
By late afternoon, 58 people had been injured nationwide in demonstrations, according to a report from Peru’s ombudsman.
The unrest followed a day of turmoil in Thursday, when one of Lima’s most historic buildings burned to the ground, as President Dina Boluarte vowed to get tougher on “vandals.”
Officials described the destruction of this building in Lima as the “loss of a century”. “monumental asset.”The causes are being investigated by authorities.
Romero claimed Friday that the blaze had been stolen by Romero “duly planned and arranged.”
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.
Protests have rocked Peru since President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December after he attempted to dissolve the legislature to prevent an impeachment vote.
The unrest has 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.
Airports in Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by demonstrators, delivering a fresh blow to Peru’s tourism industry.
“It’s nationwide chaos, you can’t live like this. We are in a terrible uncertainty – the economy, vandalism,” said Lima resident Leonardo Rojas.
Six regions have been declared in a state emergency by the government, which has limited civil rights.
Boluarte however has refused to call for her resignation or to hold snap elections. She instead called for dialogue, and promised to take punishment for those who were involved in the unrest.
“All the rigor of the law will fall on those people who have acted with vandalism,”Boluarte spoke on Thursday.
Boluarte was criticized by locals for not responding to protests which started on December 7th in response to Castillo’s arrest and ouster.
Rights groups accuse the army and police of firing deadly weapons. Protesters are accused of using weapons and explosives by the police.
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