Six soldiers dead in Peru after seeking to cross river to flee unrest

Rescue teams attempt to recover the bodies of Peruvian soldiers that drowned after jumping into the freezing waters of the river Ilave while fleeing clashes with anti-government protesters throwing rocks at them in Ilave, Peru on March 6, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

Six members of Peru's Army died after they tried to cross a river last weekend, officials said on Monday, as they tried to escape the latest in a series of anti-government protests that has rocked the country over the past three months.

The soldiers disappeared last Sunday after attempting to cross a river in southern Puno region, home to many of the most raucous protests calling for the release of jailed ex-President Pedro Castillo as well as the resignation of his successor, Dina Boluarte.

Officials said the soldiers were attacked by protesters as they tried to reinforce security operations in the region. They then decided to take "an alternative route" by crossing a river, according to a statement from the military on Sunday, but were swept away by the current.

The country's human rights watchdog called for the Army to fully investigate the circumstances of the deadly incident in a post on Twitter on Monday.

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Since Castillo's ouster, Peru has been unable to quell the extended protest movement, which has claimed several dozen deaths, including in Puno.