Death toll in Peru rises to 47 amid extraordinary violence


LIMA: A young medical student in his work uniform, desperate, his family said, to help injured protesters. A 22-year-old man who had finally saved up enough to study mechanics. An ice cream vendor returning home after a long day of work.
None took part in the demonstrations that have consumed Peru for a month. But all were killed in southern Peru on Monday, casualties in what became the deadliest day of clashes between protesters and government forces since the country erupted in violence last month.
In a matter of hours, at least 17 civilians and one police officer were killed, according to the country’s ombudsman office.
The killings, in the city of Juliaca, drew widespread condemnation of Peruvian security forces, which appear to be responsible for most of the deaths, and have been accused by protesters and human rights groups of using lethal force indiscriminately against civilians.
“He was in uniform, like all the doctors, so that they would be recognized and not attacked,” said Milagros Samillan, 27, the sister of the dead medical resident, an aspiring neurosurgeon named Marco Samillan, 31. “But the police still attacked them to kill.”
On Tuesday, Jennie Dador, executive secretary of the National Human Rights Coordinator of Peru, an accountability group, blamed “indiscriminate use of force” by state security forces for Monday’s deaths.
“What happened yesterday was really a massacre,’’ she said. “These were extrajudicial killings.”
Peru has been the scene of violent demonstrations since early December, when the country’s leftist president, Pedro Castillo, who had promised to address long-standing issues of poverty and inequality, attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree. The move was widely condemned as unconstitutional, and Castillo was arrested and replaced by his vice president.
Supporters of Castillo, many of them living in impoverished rural regions, quickly took to the streets to demand new general elections, with many saying they had been stripped of the right to be governed by the man they had voted into office just one year earlier.
The clashes in Juliaca raise the death toll since Castillo’s ouster to at least 47 people, according to the nation’s ombudsman. Nearly all of the dead have been civilians, the office said, with 39 killed, along with one police officer, amid protests and seven killed in traffic accidents related to the unrest or as a result of protesters’ blockades.

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