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Thousands march on Peru’s capital as unrest spreads, building set ablaze | Watch

World NewsThousands march on Peru's capital as unrest spreads, building set ablaze | Watch

Thousands of protesters in Peru, many from the country’s heavily populated south, descended on the capital Lima on Thursday, angry at the rising death toll since unrest began last month and demanding sweeping change. What did

Police estimated the march at around 3,500, but others speculated it attracted more than twice that number.

Riots against stone-throwing protesters on some streets drew lines of police, and a historic building in the city’s historic center caught fire late Thursday.

A firefighter commander told local radio that the building on San Martin Plaza was unoccupied when the massive fire broke out for unknown reasons.

Over the past month, violent and sometimes deadly protests have seen the worst violence in Peru in two decades as many in poor, rural areas have vented their anger at Lima’s establishment over inequality and rising prices, leading to copper. The rich Andean nation’s democracy is being tested. Institutions

Protesters are calling for the resignation of President Dina Bolvarte, early elections and a new constitution to replace the pro-market constitution under right-wing strongman Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s.

“We want dictator Dina Bolvert to resign and call for new elections,” protester Jose de la Rosa said, adding that the street protests would only continue.

The protests began on December 7 with the dramatic ouster of former leftist President Pedro Castillo after he tried to illegally close Congress and consolidate power.

On buses and on foot, thousands traveled to Lima on Thursday, carrying flags and banners chanting slogans against the government and police for deadly clashes in the southern cities of Ayacucho and Juliaca.

The unrest spread far from the capital.

In southern Arequipa, police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who tried to take over the airport, local television showed, prompting authorities to suspend operations at Arequipa and Cusco airports.

According to the government ombudsman, the death toll has risen to 45, with the latest victims coming from the southern Puno region on Thursday, a woman who died of her injuries a day earlier. Another nine deaths were attributed to accidents related to protest blockades.

state of emergency

Across the country, 18 of the country’s 25 regions saw road closures, according to transport officials, underscoring the reach of the protests.

Police have stepped up surveillance of roads leading into Lima and political leaders have appealed for calm.

Last week, the war-torn Bolourt government extended a state of emergency in Lima and the southern regions of Puno and Cusco, curtailing some civil rights.

“We don’t want more deaths, we don’t want more injuries, enough blood, enough mourning for Peruvian families,” Interior Minister Vicente Romero told reporters.

Bolvert has “apologised” for the protest deaths, even as protesters’ banners labeled him a “murderer” and the killings by security forces a “massacre”. He has rejected calls to resign.

Human rights organizations have alleged that the police and army are using lethal firearms in the protests. Police say the protesters used weapons and homemade explosives.

“We will not forget the pain caused by the police in the town of Juliaca,” said one protester who traveled to Lima, who did not give his name. He cited the city where particularly deadly protests took place earlier this month. “We women, men, children have to fight.”

Other protesters pointed to strategic reasons for targeting the coastal capital.

“We want to centralize our movement here in Lima, the heart of Peru, to see if they move,” said protester Domingo Cueva, who traveled from Cusco.

“We have seen an increase in repression everywhere,” he added.

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