Peru police fire tear gas at protesters backing Amazon Indians

June 12, 2009 03:47

Riot police used tear gas to turn student protesters away from Peru's Congress on Thursday as thousands marched to back Amazon Indians resisting oil and natural gas exploration on their land. At least 20,000 students, labor union members and indigenous Peruvians from the country's Andean highlands to its jungle lowlands joined the mostly peaceful nationwide protests. In Lima, riot police fended off several hundred students, some of whom threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, with tear gas and mounted officers. No injuries were immediately reported. Associated Press journalists witnessed several people being detained but police did not issue arrest figures. Marchers chanted "The jungle isn't for sale" during Thursday's protests, which were organized in response to a bloody police assault on an Indian roadblock on June 5 in the northern state of Amazonas. It was Peru's worst political violence in more than a decade, with 23 police killed, many with spears. Indian leaders reported at least 30 dead civilians.

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