Dozens of Peruvians were injured as tensions flared again Friday night when police clashed with protesters during anti-government demonstrations that spread across the country.
In the capital Lima, police officers used tear gas to fend off protesters throwing glass bottles and stones as fires burned in the streets, TV footage showed.
In the southern region of Puno, about 1,500 protesters attacked a police station in the city of Ilave, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said. A police station in Zepita, Puno, was also on fire, he said.
Health authorities in Ilave reported eight patients were hospitalized with injuries, including broken arms and legs, bruised eyes and pierced abdomens.
According to a report by Peru’s ombudsman, 58 people had been injured in demonstrations across the country by late afternoon.
The unrest followed a day of unrest on Thursday when one of Lima’s most historic buildings burned to the ground as President Dina Boluarte vowed to crack down on “vandals”.
The destruction of the building, a nearly hundred-year-old mansion in central Lima, was described by officials as the loss of a “monumental asset”. Authorities are investigating the causes.
Romero claimed on Friday that the fire was “duly planned and controlled.”
Thousands of protesters came to Lima this week calling for change and angered by the rising death toll from the protests, which officially stood at 45 on Friday.
At the start of Friday’s protests, protesters appeared to be better organized than the previous day, taking over major roads in central Lima.
The police seemed more combative than the day before and after guarding the demonstrators trapped in the downtown streets, they began firing tear gas.
Protests have rocked Peru since Pedro Castillo was ousted as president in December after he attempted to dissolve the legislature to avoid an impeachment vote.
Boluarte has rejected her calls to resign and hold early elections, instead calling for dialogue and pledging to punish those involved in the unrest.
In the Cusco region, Glencore’s main copper mine, Antapaccay, suspended operations on Friday after protesters attacked the site – one of the largest in the country – for the third time this month.
With Reuters and Associated Press