LIMA (Reuters) – Dozens of Peruvians were injured after tensions rose again on Friday night as police clashed with protesters at anti-government protests spreading across Peru.
In the capital city of Lima, police used tear gas to repel demonstrators throwing glass bottles and stones as fires burned in the streets.
Interior Minister Vicente Romero said in a statement to news media that about 1,500 protesters attacked a police station in the town of Irabe in the Puno region in the south of the country.
A police station in Zepita, Puno, was also on fire, Romero said.
Health officials in Ilave reported that eight patients were hospitalized with injuries including broken arms and legs, bruised eyes and punctures in the abdomen.
The Peruvian ombudsman reported 58 people were injured in demonstrations across the country by late afternoon.
The uproar followed Thursday’s chaos when one of Lima’s most historic buildings burned to the ground as President Dina Boluarte vowed to be tougher on “vandalism.”
The destruction of the building, a nearly 100-year-old mansion in central Lima, was described by officials as the loss of a “monumental property.” Authorities are investigating the cause.
Romero on Friday claimed the fire was “properly planned and arranged”.
Thousands of protesters have flocked to Lima this week to demand change, angered by the rising death toll from the protests, which officially reached 45 on Friday.
Protests have rocked Peru since President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December after he tried to dissolve parliament to prevent an impeachment vote.
Unrest was concentrated in southern Peru until this week.
In the Cusco region, Glencore’s (GLEN.L) main Antapaccay copper mine shut down on Friday. That’s because protesters at one of the country’s largest copper mines have attacked the facility for the third time this month.
Airports in Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by demonstrators, inflicting another blow on Peru’s tourism industry.
“There is chaos across the country. We cannot live like this. We are in great uncertainty. The economy, the destruction,” said Leonardo Rojas, who lives in Lima.
The government has extended the state of emergency to six regions and restricted some citizenships.
But Mr Bolarte dismissed calls for his resignation and a snap election, instead calling for dialogue and promising to punish those involved in the riots.
“All the strictness of the law applies to those who commit vandalism,” Boruarte said Thursday.
Some locals blamed Bolarte, accusing him of failing to take action to quell the protests that began on December 7 following Castillo’s deportation and arrest.
Human rights groups have accused the police and military of using deadly firearms. Police said demonstrators used weapons and homemade explosives.
Reporting by Marco Aquino. Written by Isabel Woodford.Edited by Bill Barclot, Leslie Adler, William Mallard
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