Peru/Civil unrest: tense standoff in Lima as protest turns deadly

Following the death of six miners during clashes between police and Peruvian artisan miners – or “wildcats” –  protesting in Arequipaon Sunday, thousands of miners took to the streets on Monday blocking the main highway in the southern region of Arequipa.

Clashes had erupted on Sunday near the town of Chala, 600 km south of the capital Lima, when police tried to clear a roadblock set by the miners on the Panamerican Highway leading to Chile. The miners were protesting against new rules aimed at restricting gold mining and protecting the environment in the remote forests of south-eastern Peru.

District official Luisa Llerena stated that attempts by police to force the protesters off the road sparked clashes in which six people, including two bystanders, were shot death. The clashes also left 27 people injured, including four police officers. Government authorities said 30 people were detained during Sunday’s protest.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia said the new regulations would prevent informal mining, which has inflicted much environmental damage. Last year, violence in an Amazon forest region between indigenous protesters and government forces left at least 39 people dead.