Six soldiers died of drowning, washed away by a river on Sunday while trying to flee anti-government protesters who threatened them in the Puno region of southern Peru, the Ministry of Defense announced on Monday.
The six bodies were discovered in the icy waters of the Ilave River, a tributary of Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, the ministry said on Monday.
"With the discovery of the body of Corporal Carlos Quispe Montalico, the search that began after these unfortunate events is concluded, honor and glory to our brave soldier and his five comrades," wrote the Ministry of Defense on Twitter.
General Jhony Leon, head of the Southern Military Region, claimed that these soldiers were attacked by "the population".
According to the army, the soldiers were trying to flee protesters demanding the resignation of President Dina Boluarte, who replaced Pedro Castillo after his dismissal in December by parliament.
"We crossed the river (...) because we had no other way to escape. Between 800 and 900 people surrounded us and started throwing stones at us (...) People were treating us corrupt and murderers," said a soldier wrapped in a blanket in a video released by the ministry.
According to his account, the soldiers tried to make a human chain but "the current swept us away and some began to drown."
MoD video shows 15 soldiers seated in an arc and wrapped in blankets reporting to a superior.
On Sunday, health authorities in Puno said they had treated five soldiers suffering from hypothermia who had been rescued by villagers.
The military patrol was heading to the town of Juli, also located in the Puno region, where clashes erupted on Saturday, leaving at least 16 civilians and soldiers injured.
Peru is embroiled in a serious political and social crisis which erupted on December 7 with the ousting and imprisonment of the former left-wing president, replaced by his vice-president.
Mr. Castillo, 53, is accused of having attempted a coup d'etat by wanting to dissolve the Assembly which was preparing to oust him from power.
His fall after 17 months in office sparked violent protests that left 54 dead, including the six soldiers, and more than 1,300 injured, nearly half of them men in uniform, according to the office of the President. mediator.
In addition to the resignation of Ms. Boluarte, the protesters demand the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of early elections in 2023.
07/03/2023 03:26:27 - Lima (AFP) - © 2023 AFP