Peruvian anti-government protesters clash with police in Puno


Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, who took office last month after the ousting of Pedro Castillo.

Dozens of anti-government protesters have clashed with police in southern Peru amid renewed unrest in the wake of the removal and detention of former President Pedro Castillo.

The protesters attempted to take over the airport and police used tear gas to disperse them, the Reuters news agency reported. Protesters set fire to a police tank outside the Inca Manco Capac airport in Juliaca, Peru’s Puno region, late Friday, according to local media reports and images circulating on social media.

The demonstrations against the new president Dina Boluarte resumed this week after a two-week break. In December, there were violent clashes that left 22 people dead after Castillo was ousted, arrested and taken into custody.

News outlets in Puno reported that 15 people were injured in protests on Friday. Three officers were injured in the clashes and were flown to Lima, the capital, for treatment, police said Saturday. More than 40 people have been injured since protests resumed on Wednesday, the health ministry said.

Airport services were suspended “because of the violent actions and lack of security,” said Peru’s Andean Airports, which operates Juliaca Airport.

Protesters forced the temporary closure of three airports in Peru in December.

The protesters are demanding the removal of Boluarte, who took over on December 7 after the country’s opposition Congress voted overwhelmingly to remove Castillo. The protesters are also calling for the closure of Congress, constitutional amendments and Castillo’s release.

Castillo is serving 18 months in pre-trial detention while he is being investigated on charges of “rebellion” after illegally attempting to shut down Congress, which he denies.

On Friday, up to 49 blockade points were reported in different regions of the country, an increase from the day before, the Ombudsman’s office said in a statement.

Al Jazeera’s Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Apurímac, Peru, said hundreds of farmers joined the protests on Friday.

Protesters told Al Jazeera they were demanding that former President Castillo’s campaign policies be implemented by the government.

“We want President Dina Boluarte to step down. She does not represent us,” protester Lidia Pillaca said.

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

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

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

Human rights groups have accused security forces of using deadly firearms and launching smoke bombs at protesters, who the military says used homemade weapons and explosives.

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