Peru: Six soldiers drowned while fleeing protesters

Tension is at its height in Peru

Peru: Six soldiers drowned while fleeing protesters

Tension is at its height in Peru. Anti-government protesters threatened several soldiers in the Puno region, prompting them to throw themselves into a river on Sunday, March 5. Six of them drowned.

"Due to the difficulties, the flow of the river and the attack with stones and other blunt objects by a group of protesters, six members of a patrol were swept away by the current, resulting in the death by drowning of Corporal Franz Canazas," the armed forces command said in a statement on Sunday. "In addition, five soldiers are missing" in the raging waters of the Ilave River, he added. The five bodies were eventually discovered in the freezing waters of the Ilave River, a tributary of Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia.

The patrol, which was heading towards the town of Juli, where demonstrations left at least 16 people injured the day before, was intercepted by protesters, who threatened the soldiers with stones, slingshots and other objects, according to the 'army. Faced with this situation, "the patrol decided to take an alternative route, which included crossing the Ilave River, to avoid confrontation," the command explained.

Peru is embroiled in a serious political and social crisis that erupted on December 7 with the ousting and imprisonment of former left-wing president Pedro Castillo, replaced by his vice-president Dina Boluarte. Pedro Castillo, 53, is accused of having attempted a coup d'etat by wanting to dissolve the Assembly which was about to oust him from power.

His fall after seventeen months at the helm of the country sparked violent protests that left 53 dead and more than 600 injured in clashes between his supporters and the police. The protesters demand the resignation of Dina Boluarte, the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of snap elections in 2023.