Peru declares emergency after mine protest violence

Locals surround a damaged car during a protest against Swiss-owned mining company Xstrata.

Story highlights

  • Peru declares a 30-day state of emergency in the province of Espinar
  • Clashes between police and protesters leave two dead and 76 police injured
  • Peru's President, Ollanta Humala, asked for a moment of silence for the victims

The government of Peru declared a 30-day state of emergency in the southern Andean province of Espinar after violent anti-mining protests left two civilians dead and at least 76 police officers injured since Sunday.

The riots are between hundreds of police officers and people who support an indefinite strike against the Tintaya copper mine owned by Swiss-based Xstrata plc.

The emergency measures, announced Monday, include the suspension of freedom of assembly and give special powers to the police in the hopes of restoring order in the province, said Peru's Prime Minister Oscar Valdes.

Peru's ministers of interior, environment, and energy and mines were also at the Monday news conference with Valdes.

At the news conference, Valdes accused the protesters of taking a radical position.

"We ratify that as a government we want a dialogue to take place. In the case of Espinar, up to now we have tried without success to hold that dialogue," Valdes said.

Wilver Calle, the interior minister, confirmed the two deaths on Monday and said that 30 police officers were injured on Monday and 46 on Sunday.

Residents around the mine were without power, according to CNN affiliate, America Noticias, and the network showed images of a mine building on fire.

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala asked for a moment of silence for the two victims, during a graduation ceremony on Monday night.

Many people in the Espinar province have being protesting since last week and they are calling for an investigation into alleged environmental damage caused by the Tintaya copper mine and an increase of the company's contribution from three to 30% to the local authorities.