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Peru closes Machu Picchu amid violent anti-government protests

Sky News logo Sky News 21/01/2023

Peruvian authorities have closed the iconic tourist attraction Machu Picchu amid ongoing protests that have left dozens of people dead since they began a month ago.

Tourists sightseeing at Machu Picchu. Pic: AP © Associated Press Tourists sightseeing at Machu Picchu. Pic: AP

Demonstrations have spread through the Andean nation since early December, with new clashes reported in Cusco, the gateway to the nearby Inca trail and ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Cultural authorities in Cusco said in a statement that "in view of the current social situation in which our region and the country are immersed, the closure of the Inca trail network and Machu Picchu has been ordered, as of 21 January and until further notice".

Riot police fire tear gas at anti-government protesters in the capital on Friday © Associated Press Riot police fire tear gas at anti-government protesters in the capital on Friday

Protesters attempted to take over the city's airport, used by many foreign tourists to access the area, leaving 37 civilians and six police officers injured, according to health workers.

Airports in Arequipa and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by demonstrators, damaging Peru's tourism industry.

Protests and road blockades against Peruvian President Dina Boluarte's government and in support of ousted president Pedro Castillo also broke out in 41 provinces, mainly in Peru's south.

Some of the worst violence came on Monday when 17 people were killed in clashes with police in the city of Juliaca, near Lake Titicaca. Protesters later attacked and burned a police officer to death.

On Friday security forces in the capital Lima unleashed tear gas to repel demonstrators throwing glass bottles and stones, as fires burned in the streets.

Unrest was sparked in early December by the destitution and arrest of Castillo, Peru's first president of humble, rural roots, following his widely condemned attempt to dissolve Congress to avoid an impeachment trial.

Left-wing lawyer Dina Boluarte was sworn in on the same day, after serving as vice-president to Pedro Castillo.

The protesters, mainly from neglected, rural areas of the country still loyal to Castillo, demand immediate elections, Boluarte's resignation, Castillo's release.

They also want justice for the protesters killed in clashes with police.

Dozens of civilians have been killed in clashes with police and at least seven have died in traffic accidents related to the barricades.


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