Five Die in Peru Protests

LIMA – Five people have died in the northern city of Piura in violent clashes between shopkeepers and police over plans to remove street vendors from the vicinity of a local market, Peruvian media reported on Thursday.

Three people died on Wednesday and two others on Thursday from wounds they received in street battles on Wednesday, radio networks said.

The confrontations have ceased, at least for now, but an atmosphere of great tension persists, police spokesmen in Piura told Efe, but they were unable to confirm the two latest deaths.

For the moment, only three deaths have been officially confirmed, Interior Minister Octavio Salazar said, adding that he also had been informed about the other two fatalities.

The confrontations were precipitated when about 1,000 shopkeepers demonstrated in Piura, which is 1,050 kilometers (651 miles) north of Lima, after they could not meet with Mayor Monica Zapata at city hall and began a street protest, a situation that was taken advantage of by criminals to attack different premises.

The shopkeepers were protesting the city’s plan to remove the street vendors who traditionally set up their stands outside the city market.

“We came upon an activity that the shopkeepers were doing, which was not authorized, and when they began damaging public and private property, we intervened,” said Salazar.

A total of 137 people were arrested, Salazar said. It was not reported whether there were any casualties among the police.

About 500 police officers have been deployed in the city, both those on the local force as well as ones dispatched from other cities, including Chiclayo, Trujillo and Lima, police spokesmen said. EFE

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