Five civilians were killed during violent protests against mining activities in the Cajamarca region, according to Human Rights Watch. Environmental activist Marco Arana was briefly detained by authorities.

Three civilians died from gunshot wounds July 3, 2012, in the city of Celendín during a confrontation between protesters and police and army units outside the city hall. More than 30 other civilians were injured, several of them reportedly with bullet wounds, according to local hospital officials. The government declared a state of emergency in three of Cajamarca department’s provinces.

For several months there have been strikes and protests in Cajamarca against Yanacocha’s Conga project. Local media reported the violence July 3 began when a group of construction workers were protesting non-payment of wages for a school building project. Those who died July 3—Faustino Silva Sánchez, José Eleuterio García Rojas and César Medina Aguilar, a 17-year-old high school student—appear to have been shot after army units moved in to help the police. Another civilian, José Antonio Sánchez, who was gravely injured by a bullet wound in the throat, died in a hospital July 5. Joselito Vásquez Jambo was killed July 4 during a clash between demonstrators and police in the town of Bambamarca in circumstances that remain unclear.

The Interior Ministry said in a public statement that two police officers guarding the town hall in Celendín had been hit in the legs with bullets fired by demonstrators trying to force their way into the building, and blamed leaders of the protests for the violence. Three soldiers were also seriously injured, the ministry said.

Arana, whom politicians accuse of leading the mining protests, was arrested July 4 by about 40 police carrying riot shields and batons as he was sitting on a bench in the central square in Cajamarca. He was released early in the morning of July 5, after an official of the attorney general’s office found there was no legal reason to hold him.

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