Dozens of people were injured after tensions flared again Friday night as police clashed with protesters in anti-government demonstrations that are spreading across Peru.
In Lima, the capital, police officers used tear gas to repel protesters who were throwing glass bottles and stones as streets caught fire, local television footage showed.
In the southern region of Puno, some 1,500 protesters attacked a police station in the town of Ilave, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said in a statement to the media.
A police station in Zepita, Puno, also caught fire, Romero said.
Ilave health authorities reported eight hospitalized patients with injuries, including broken arms and legs, eye bruises, and punctured abdomens.
By late afternoon, 58 people had been injured across the country in demonstrations, according to a report by Peru’s Ombudsman’s Office.
The unrest followed a day of turmoil on Thursday, when one of Lima’s most historic buildings burned to the ground, as President Dina Boluarte vowed to be tougher on «vandals.»
The destruction of the building, a nearly century-old mansion in the center of Lima, was described by officials as the loss of a «monumental asset.» The authorities are investigating the causes.
Romero claimed Friday that the fire was «properly planned and arranged.»
Thousands of protesters descended on Lima this week calling for change and angered by the rising death toll from the protests, which officially stood at 45 on Friday.
Protests have rocked Peru since President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December after he tried to dissolve the legislature to avoid an impeachment vote.
The riots until this week have been concentrated in southern Peru.
In the Cusco region, Glencore’s main Antapaccay copper mine suspended operations on Friday after protesters attacked the facility, one of the largest in the country, for the third time this month.
The airports of Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by protesters, dealing a new blow to Peru’s tourism industry.
“It is a national chaos, you cannot live like this. We are in terrible uncertainty: the economy, vandalism,” said Leonardo Rojas, a resident of Lima.
The government has extended the state of emergency to six regions, restricting some civil rights.
But Boluarte has dismissed calls for him to resign and hold early elections, instead calling for dialogue and vowing to punish those involved in the riots.
«All the rigor of the law will fall on those people who have acted with vandalism,» Boluarte said Thursday.
Some locals pointed the finger at Boluarte, accusing her of failing to take steps to quell the protests, which began on December 7 in response to Castillo’s ouster and arrest.
Human rights groups have accused the police and army of using lethal firearms. Police say protesters have used weapons and homemade explosives.