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Peru arrests 200 in Lima while Machu Picchu and Inca Trail are closed due to the protests

Peruvian police arrested over 200 people accused of illegally entering the campus of a major Lima university, while authorities in Cusco shut down the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail as deadly protests spread across the country against the spread government.

Dozens of Peruvians were injured after tensions flared again on Friday when police clashed with protesters. Security forces in the capital, Lima, used tear gas to repel protesters who threw glass bottles and stones while fires burned in the streets.

Some 46 people were killed in the weeks of clashes and another nine in traffic accidents related to the barricades erected during the protests.

Alfonso Barrenechea of ​​the prosecutor’s crime prevention unit told local radio station RPP that 205 people were arrested at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos for illegally entering the university’s premises and allegedly stealing electronic equipment.

A group of masked protesters stormed the campus late Friday and removed security personnel from the campus after taking vests and other equipment from them, the university said in a statement.

Videos circulating online show an armored vehicle breaking down a door on the university campus to allow security personnel to enter.

In the Cusco region, gateway to Machu Picchu, Glencore’s largest copper mine at Antapaccay shut down operations on Friday after protesters attacked the site – one of the country’s largest – for the third time this month.

Airports in Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by protesters, dealing a new blow to Peru’s tourism industry.

The cultural authorities in Cusco said in a statement that “given the current social situation in which our region and country are immersed, the closure of the Inca Trail network and Machu Picchu has been ordered from January 21 and until further notice . “

The imposing Inca citadel is a major tourist attraction with over a million visitors a year, although that number has declined due to the pandemic.

Protests have rocked Peru since former President Pedro Castillo was ousted in December after trying to dissolve the legislature to avoid an impeachment trial.

The unrest, which until this week was concentrated in southern Peru, has prompted the government to extend a state of emergency to six regions and cut some civil rights.

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