Police Hostages Die in Peru Protest
More blood was spilled Saturday as Peruvian police attempted to rescue their colleagues. 38 police officers who were providing security at an oil pumping station had been taken hostage. In the course of the rescue attempt nine were killed and seven have disappeared. The authorities have not revealed the death count of the protesters although the leaders of the indigenous people have reported 25 deaths from their ranks, three of them children.
At least nine police officers, seized by indigenous protesters in Peru, have been killed as their colleagues attempted to rescue them, officials said.
Security forces launched the operation early on Saturday after the demonstrators took control of an oil-pumping station in the western Amazon and took 38 officers hostage.
"Of the 38 police officers who were taken hostage at the [petrol] facility, where they were providing security protection ... 22 have been rescued by the army, nine have died at the hands of the natives and seven have disappeared," Miguel Hidalgo, a police chief, told local radio.
Also on Saturday, a judge has ordered the arrest Alberto Pizango, the leader of the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association, on charges of sedition for allegedly inciting the violence in the western Amazon.
Pizango has accused the government of Alan Garcia, the president, of ordering "genocide" when attacked the roadblock, which had been manned by thousands of protesters, some armed with spears.
At the heart of the dispute are laws passed last year as Garcia sought to bring Peru's regulatory framework into compliance with a free-trade agreement with the US.
The protests have provoked national debate about government policies in the Amazon that ignore indigenous peoples and encourage large-scale extractive industries in Amazonian lands. Indigenous peoples assert that new laws undermine their rights and open up their ancestral lands to private companies for mining, logging, plantations, and oil drilling without their consultation or consent.
In Peru, the Camisea Natural Gas Project has generated controversy over the environmental damage done in the Amazon and in the Paracas Marine Reserve as well as the effect on the formerly isolated indigenous people.
Hunt Oil is one of the companies involved in the Camisea Natural Gas Project with liquified natural gas slated for markets in Mexico and the Western United States.
Violence between those living in the wealthy cities and the indigenous, tribal people seems to be escalating.