Peru fisherman killed protesting natural gas project

LIMA – At least one person was killed and 13 others were wounded in a clash Tuesday between riot police and protesters opposed to a gas extraction project in a bay of northern Peru, according to police reports.

Peru’s federal police chief Raul Salazar said in a local television report that hundreds of protesters had stormed into the police headquarters in the city of Sechura, more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lima.

Salazar said the station was “practically destroyed” in the clashes between protesters and police, adding that officers used tear gas and firearms to disperse the demonstrators.

Salazar had initially said that two protesters were killed, but a subsequent police report said only one person, fisherman Cristian Alvarado Frias, 24, had been shot dead. Several police were reportedly wounded.

Most of the demonstrators were fishermen opposed to the offshore extraction of natural gas in Sechura Bay.

Javier Atkins, president of Chile’s Piura region, said protest leaders have agreed to suspend their demonstration and begin negotiations on Wednesday.

Peru has been ramping up its hydrocarbon production and envisions a sharp increase by 2015 to reach a goal of 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil and liquefied gas, despite heated opposition from citizen groups and activists.

The violence erupted on the second day of a strike organized by the Defense Front of Sechura, which has seen some 600 protesters, mostly fishermen, block city streets with sticks and logs.

Protesters also threw stones at several vehicles before clashing with police, who responded initially with tear gas, “and finally had to make use of their firearms,” Salazar said.

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