LIMA – A policeman was injured and 42 people were arrested on Thursday in the latest round of protests against an increase in tolls on a heavily traveled highway in the Peruvian capital, authorities said.
The number of the injured is likely to rise, given that pellets fired by police struck a significant number of demonstrators.
One of the people detained was carrying a gun, Interior Minister Carlos Basombrio told a congressional committee.
Around 5,000 people responded to a call to block the Lima Norte highway for the second time in less than a week even though the Lima government announced Wednesday that tolls would be suspended for 30 days.
The private company that operates the road under a concession from the Peruvian government, Rutas de Lima, installed a second toll plaza on the Lima Norte roughly 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the existing one and raised the fare at each to 5 soles ($1.48).
Rutas de Lima, owned by Canadian investment fund Brookfield and Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, said it planned to use the period of the suspension to explore “alternatives with the aim of finding a solution without harming the economic equilibrium of the contract.
Residents of the Puente Piedra district have no viable alternative to the Lima Norte highway for travel to other areas of the capital.
The new toll plaza was set on fire during a protest last Friday.
As many as 2,000 police were deployed Thursday to prevent the protesters from reaching the additional toll plaza.
The standoff sparked two hours of clashes, as protesters hurled rocks and burned tires while the cops resorted to tear gas and pellets.
Until last June, Rutas de Lima was wholly owned by Odebrecht, which recently admitted to having paid $29 million in bribes to Peruvian officials between 2005 and 2014.