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12 die in fresh clashes in southeastern Peru

Peruvian police officers operate as demonstrators hold a protest demanding early elections and the release of ousted Peruvian president Pedro Castillo, in Juliaca, southeastern Peru on January 8, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 12 people have died in a southeastern Peruvian city during clashes between security forces and protesters reportedly trying to overrun a local airport.

The fatalities were caused on Monday in the city of Juliaca. Those killed had gunshot wounds, an official at the local Calos Monge Hospital told a Peruvian TV channel. 

The dead included two teenagers, the local health ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying. At least 38 other people had also been wounded during the violence, the ministry added in a statement published on Facebook.

"What is happening is Peruvians are slaughtering each other. I ask for calm," said Juliaca's Mayor Oscar Caceres.

Demonstrators had already tried on Saturday to overrun Juliaca's airport, which is being protected by police and soldiers. 

Juliaca is located in the country's Puno region, which has proven to be a flashpoint for violence since the country started to experience its latest spate of political unrest, almost a month ago.

The unrest began after former president Pedro Castillo was arrested and jailed amid his attempt to dissolve Congress and rule by decree.

Castillo is serving 18 months of pre-trial detention on charges of rebellion. He denies the charges.

The protesters have a whole host of demands, including departure of President Dina Boluarte, who has replaced Castillo, and the former head of state's return. 

They are also calling for early elections, closure of Congress, and changes to the Constitution.

Speaking at a "national agreement" meeting earlier on Monday with representatives from the country's regions and various political institutions, Boluarte said she could not grant some of the protesters' key demands. She called on citizens to rather "reflect."

"The only thing that was in my hands was moving forwards the elections, which we have already proposed," she said, and claimed, "What you are asking for is a pretext to continue generating chaos in the cities."

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