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Anti-Mining Protests Escalate in Peru; Four Killed in Police Violence

•, staff

Peru’s government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, banning protests and freedom of assembly in the country, following public opposition to a planned restart of the nation's largest gold mining project.

At least four protesters have been killed and twenty-one injured due to police violence in two days of demonstrations, Reuters reports.

Marco Arana, a former Roman Catholic priest and leading organizer, was also arrested on Wednesday in Cajamarca, one of three provinces where the state of emergency was declared. A video broadcast by a local TV channel showed riot police scooping him off a bench in the city's central square and taking him away in a chokehold
 Subsequent to his release, according to the Associated Press, Arana wrote on Twitter: "They detained me and beat me a lot, inside the police station they beat me again - punches in the face, the kidneys and insults."

Human rights groups called Arana's detention part of a harsh crackdown by President Ollanta Humala. It is the third time he has declared state emergencies and suspended civil liberties in the country since taking office a year ago.

The proposed $4.8bn Conga gold mining project was suspended last year due to similar protests, but US-based Newmont Mining Co. is now set to restart the project following approval by Humala last week.

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