5 Peruvian soldiers missing in river after fleeing from protesters
Lima, Mar 5 (EFE).- Five Peruvian soldiers remain missing after having been dragged by the current of a river on Sunday while fleeing a group of anti-government protesters in the southern Puno region in an incident in which one soldier was killed, military sources said.
The soldiers were part of a patrol travelling from the city of Ilave to Juli – where protesters had set a police station on fire on Saturday – when they were intercepted by a group of violent dissidents who blocked their passage, the Armed Forces’ Joint Command informed.
In this scenario, the patrol decided to take an alternative route and cross the Ilave river to avoid a clash, but “due to the difficulties, including the river current and facing an attack by stones and other sold objects,” six members of the patrol were dragged away by the water.
The deceased soldier has been identified as sergeant Franz Canazas Cahuaya.
Meanwhile five other soldiers have been admitted into the Ilave hospital due to hypothermia, and remain stable.
Military authorities have launched a search operation for missing soldiers.
The armed forces have also launched a probe to determine the exact causes of the incident.
On Saturday, a mob of around 300 people attacked the police station in the neighboring city of Juli with stones and other objects for hours and eventually set it on fire with Molotov cocktails.
Ten police officers were injured in the attack and had to be airlifted as part of the rescue, while seven civilians wounded in the clash were admitted into the local hospital.
Another protesting group simultaneously attacked the Juli military base, temporarily housed in a hotel, and as a result 10 military officers were wounded with bruises and cuts on their heads and arms.
In the Puno region, which includes Juli, road-blockades and shutdown of several activities been continued by locals since January demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.
Authorities’ suppression of the protests has triggered violence in which 18 people were killed in the neighboring city of Juliaca.
This week a delegation of Juliaca residents visited Lima to reiterate their demand of early elections, but the police fired teargas against a group that included women carrying small children, which thwarted the campaign.
The government has declared a state of emergency in Puno, where local law and order responsibilities have been handed to the armed forces, with the national police being put under military command.
Since December, when widespread protests broke out after the arrest of former president Pedro Castillo following his attempt to dissolve the Congress, at least 70 people have been killed in protests and clashes. EFE