At least 30 are dead following a clash between police and Indians protesting oil development in Peru’s Amazon region.
The Associated Press (AP) and other sources are reporting the violence broke out when authorities attempted to penetrate a road blockade by some 5,000 Indians in the northern province of Utcubamba.
“Protest leaders said police opened fire from helicopters with bullets and tear gas, while national police director Jose Sanchez Farfan said Indians attacked officers with firearms,” the AP reported. “He said they also set fire to government buildings.”
At least 10 Indians and 22 police officers were killed. Another 50 protesters were injured according to Indian leader Alberto Pizango.
Indigenous groups have been blocking roads, waterways and a state oil pipeline in protest of the President Alan Garcia’s attempt to open vast tracts of the Amazon to oil and gas developers as part of a free trade agreement with the United States. More than 70 percent of the Peruvian Amazon is now under foreign concession.
Garcia last month declared a state of emergency in four Amazon provinces affected by protests, suspending some constitutional rights and calling upon the army to help restore order so oil and gas operations could resume.