Each side blamed the other for the bloodshed and showed little sign of backing down. President Alan García – whose government was plunged into crisis — accused indigenous tribes of waging “subversive aggression against democracy” and butchering police with barbaric methods. Authorities said at least 23 police were killed, while indigenous leaders said more than 40 Indians were killed.
Critics accused García of riding roughshod over indigenous concerns about oil, gas and mining projects on ancestral land. Since April, 64 tribal groups have halted development projects by blocking roads, waterways and oil pipelines across the Amazon in a tense but peaceful campaign.
Last week the government rejected a legislative attempt to overturn controversial laws that opened the Amazon to development by multinational companies. Officials used the military to recapture two valves on the pipeline between the Camisea gas field and the Pacific coast.
In a separate operation near the town of Bagua, 600 police tried to clear a stretch of road blocked by thousands of people from the Awajun and Wambis tribes. Indigenous leaders and supporters said police, including some in helicopters, fired live ammunition rounds at protesters who were armed only with traditional wooden spears.
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