LIMA, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Dozens of Peruvians were injured on Friday night after police clashed with protesters in anti-government protests spreading across the country.
In the capital Lima, police officers fired tear gas to stop protesters throwing glass bottles and stones as fires burned in the streets, local television footage showed.
In the country’s southern Puno region, about 1,500 protesters attacked a police station in the city of Ilavé, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said in a statement to news media.
Romero said a police station in Cebita, Puno, was also on fire.
Health officials in Ilawe said eight patients were hospitalized with injuries, including broken arms and legs, eye injuries and punctured abdomens.
By late afternoon, Peru’s ombudsman reported that 58 people had been injured in the protests across the country.
The unrest followed a day of turmoil on Thursday, when one of Lima’s historic buildings burned to the ground, as President Tina Bolvarde vowed to crack down on “vandals”.
The destruction of the building, a century-old mansion in central Lima, was described by authorities as the loss of a “monumental asset”. The authorities are investigating the reasons for this.
Romero said Friday that the fire was “systematically planned and organized.”
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.
Peru has seen protests since the December ouster of President Pedro Castillo, who tried to dissolve the legislature to prevent an impeachment vote.
The unrest has been concentrated in Peru’s south until this week.
Glencorin, in the Cuzco region (GLEN.L) For the third time this month – one of the country’s largest – the large Andapake copper mine halted operations on Friday after protesters stormed the premises.
Airports in Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by demonstrators, dealing a new blow to Peru’s tourism sector.
“It’s nationwide chaos, you can’t live like this. We’re in a terrible state of uncertainty – the economy, the vandalism,” Lima resident Leonardo Rojas said.
The government curtailed some civil rights and extended a state of emergency to six regions.
But Polwart rejected calls for him to resign and snap elections, instead calling for talks and vowing to punish those involved in the unrest.
“All the rigors of the law will fall on those who acted with vandalism,” Polwarte said on Thursday.
Some locals pointed the finger at Poluarte for not taking steps to quell the protests that began on December 7 in response to Castillo’s ouster and arrest.
Human rights groups have accused the police and army of using lethal weapons. Police say the protesters used weapons and homemade explosives.
Statement by Marco Aquino; By Isabelle Woodford; Editing by Bill Bergrod, Leslie Adler and William Mallard
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