Peru protesters clash with police in airport takeover attempt in Puno

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Protesters set fire to a police tank outside the Inca Manco Capac airport in Juliaca, in Peru’s Puno region, according to images on social media and local television.

Protests against President Dina Boluarte resumed this week after a two-week pause, following violent clashes in December that left 22 dead following the removal and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo.

The news in Puno reported 15 wounded, including two policemen. The health ministry did not immediately confirm the reports.

Andean Airports of Peru, which operates Juliaca airport, said that services were suspended “due to the violent acts and the lack of security”.

In December, protesters forced the temporary closure of three airports in Peru.

The protesters demand the resignation of Boluarte, the closure of Congress, constitutional changes and the release of Castillo. The former President is serving 18 months in preventive detention while being investigated for “rebellion” after illegally trying to shut down Congress, an accusation he denies.

Up to 49 roadblocks were reported on Friday in different regions of the country, an increase from the previous day, the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.

In the Ica region, on Peru’s central coast, protesters blocked a major highway, overturning dozens of passenger and cargo vehicles.

“We already supported last year’s strike, we have been out of work for about 10 days and the truth is, with the pandemic and everything that was there, we have to continue working,” said Jose Palomino, a driver hit by the roadblock.

The attorney general’s office said Friday that it is evaluating the complaints against Boluarte and three of her ministers and, if warranted, will launch an investigation into the deaths that occurred during the December protests.

A human rights group has accused security forces of using deadly firearms and throwing smoke bombs at protesters, who the army says used weapons and homemade explosives.

Boluarte welcomed the prosecutor’s announcement on Twitter, writing that she “will provide all the appropriate resources for the prompt clarification of the facts, as he has repeatedly requested.”

(Reporting by Marco Aquino; Additional reporting by Alfredo Galarza for Reuters TV; editing by Diane Craft)

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