Policeman burned to death in anti-government riots in Peru

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LIMA, Peru — A police officer on patrol was attacked and burned by protesters in Peru’s Puno region as the death toll rose to 47 at demonstrations following the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo, authorities said on Tuesday.

José Luis Soncco Quispe, 29, was on patrol with a colleague in Juliaca, a town near the Bolivian border and Lake Titicaca, on Monday night when they were attacked by a mob, police reports said, who later set fire to their vehicle.

Soncco’s partner in the patrol car, Ronald Villasante Toque, reportedly said the men were “arrested and physically assaulted by around 350 protesters.”

Villasante was taken to a hospital in Lima after being beaten with multiple head injuries. He said he didn’t know what happened to his partner.

Prime Minister Alberto Otárola confirmed Soncco’s death in a session of Congress, saying the men were attacked by protesters.

“Police arrived at the scene to find that one officer had been beaten and tied up and the other, Luis Soncco Quispe, had sadly died,” he said. “He was burned alive in his squad car.”

Otárola announced a three-day curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. in Puno and a day of mourning for the fallen on Wednesday.

The Peruvian Ombudsman’s Office said that since protests began in early December following Castillo’s sacking, 39 civilians have died in clashes with police and another seven in traffic accidents, along with the fallen police officer.

The police officer’s death came after the killing of 13 people in Juliaca on Monday, as protests resumed calling for immediate elections in neglected rural areas of the country still loyal to Castillo.

The riots began after Castillo’s ouster and arrest following a widely condemned attempt to dissolve Congress and thwart his own impeachment.

Castillo’s successor, his former running mate Dina Boluarte, has backed a plan to postpone presidential and congressional elections originally scheduled for 2026 to 2024. She has also expressed her support for judicial inquiries into whether the security forces used excessive force.

But such moves have so far failed to quell unrest, which, after a brief lull around the Christmas and New Year holidays, resumed violently in some of Peru’s poorest areas, where support for Castillo’s unorthodox rule was strongest.

Castillo, a political novice who lived in a two-story mud house in the Andean highlands before moving to the presidential palace, won a narrow election victory last year that shook Peru’s political establishment and exposed the deep divisions between residents of the capital, Lima and the long-neglected Landscape.

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