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March 29, 2017

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Two more die in rioting over Peru wholesale market relocation order

LIMA, Peru -- Rioting against Lima's insistence on relocating Peru's biggest wholesale market to a cleaner, less lawless neighborhood claimed two more lives Saturday, and authorities said 27 people were injured.

Police, who fought rioters with tear gas and batons, reported 103 arrests.

Two other civilians were killed Thursday when rioting first broke out over the cordoning off by police of the La Parada market to prevent trucks from entering.

Sixty-eight police officers were injured Thursday. News video and photographs showed rioters beating some officers brutally with clubs and rocks and a police horse's lower leg nearly chopped off by a machete.

Rioting resumed Saturday after authorities fortified concrete barriers blocking access to the market. It didn't appear any officers were injured in the new violence.

Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said one of the civilians killed Saturday died of a gunshot wound, the other of a stab wound. He said at least 27 people were reported injured and 103 had been arrested.

Lima's left-leaning mayor, Susana Villaran, blamed thugs hired by crooked merchants for the violence. She said La Parada, which sprawls over 3 hectares (7.4 acres) near downtown Lima, must be moved to end racketeering and improve hygiene.

Villaran told RPP radio Saturday that the hundreds of police deployed in La Parada were there to restore order to "a zone where until now there was nothing but unhealthiness, disorder, chaos and insecurity."

In a TV interview Friday, she called La Parada "a world where a lot of people earn a lot of money through criminal acts, control of territory, protection rackets. And they don't want to leave."

She called Thursday's violence "pre-mediated reaction by hired bands or troublemakers who want to continue ruling their territory outside the law. We are not going to permit that in Lima."

Villaran had set a deadline of mid-September for merchants to move to a new market in the Santa Anita district. But they refused.

More than 10,000 people work in La Parada, which is surrounded by areas plagued by street crime, include one where stolen goods are on sale in abundance.

Villaran has had similar troubles trying to bring Lima's chaotic mass transit system under control.

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