Police Clash with Informal Miners, Two Deaths in Pataz

Two people have been killed and several others injured during a clash between police and informal miners in northern Peru on Friday, local media reported.

Privately-owned gold miner Consorcio Minero Horizonte had filed a complaint that informal miners were invading its La Bonita mine in the province of Pataz, in the highlands of the northern La Libertad region.

Between 150 and 200 police (reports differ) were sent to the mine early Friday to remove some 500 informal miners, according to daily El Comercio.

The head of police in La Libertad, Roger Torres, said that the informal miners were armed with clubs, rocks and dynamite.

The two fatalities were informal miners, while two others miners were seriously injured and another two were arrested. Five police officers were also injured, according to El Comercio.

The mining sector has been the focus of violent clashes over at least the past two years. Conflicts, which are often ignored by government authorities until they build up, often become violent when police try to control large protests, many times over environmental issues, as well as when they confront informal miners.

According to the Human Rights Coordinator, CNDH, 26 people have died during protests since President Humala began his administration in 2011.

Informal mining is one of the biggest environmental and social challenges in Peru. Illegal and informal mining is best known for destroying large swaths of rainforest in the south-eastern Madre de Dios region in search for placer gold, but it is also found throughout the country.

The Defensoria del Pueblo, Peru’s ombudsman, said recently that there are approximately 220 social conflicts in the Andean nation.  The newly created office within the Cabinet to design strategies and policies to prevent and solve social conflicts has yet to become proactive.

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