(Reuters) – Peruvian authorities have ordered the closure of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and the Inca trail leading to the world-famous archaeological site from Saturday amid anti-government demonstrations that have spread across the country and have caused a rising death toll.
Dozens of Peruvians were injured after tensions flared again Friday when police clashed with protesters, with security forces in the capital Lima using tear gas to fend off protesters throwing glass bottles and stones as fires burned in the streets.
About 46 people have died in the weeks-long clashes and another nine in road accidents related to the barricades erected during the protests.
In the Cusco region, the gateway to Machu Picchu, Glencore’s main Antapaccay copper mine suspended operations Friday after protesters attacked the property – one of the largest in the country – for the third time this month.
Airports in Arequipa, Cusco and the southern city of Juliaca were also attacked by protesters, dealing another blow to Peru’s tourism industry.
Cultural authorities in Cusco said in a statement that “given the current social situation in which our region and the country are immersed, the closure of the Inca route network and Machu Picchu has been ordered, starting January 21 and until further notice”.
The imposing Inca citadel is a major tourist attraction, with more than a million visitors a year, though that number has dwindled due to the pandemic.
Protests have rocked Peru since former President Pedro Castillo was impeached in December after he attempted to dissolve the legislature to avoid an impeachment vote.
The unrest, centered in southern Peru until this week, has prompted the government to extend a state of emergency to six regions, curtailing some civil rights.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Alistair Bell)