Indigenous people rescue tourists taken in in the Peruvian Amazon

Indigenous people rescue tourists taken in in the Peruvian Amazon


Members of an indigenous group on Friday freed more than 100 tourists they kidnapped a day earlier in the Peruvian Amazon to protest what they called government inaction following an oil spill, officials said.

The group of detained tourists – some 27 from the United States, Spain, France, Britain, Switzerland and 80 from Peru itself – included several children.

“They are already returning to their places of origin,” Tourism Minister Roberto Sanchez told reporters in Lima.

The tourists, who were traveling on a river boat, were kidnapped on Thursday by members of the Cuninico community who were urging government intervention after 2,500 tons of crude oil spilled into the Cuninico river on September 16.

Community leader Watson Trujillo said Thursday the community took the “radical measure” to try to persuade the government to send a delegation to assess the environmental damage in a region home to about 2,500 indigenous people.

On Friday, the Peruvian Human Rights Ombudsman’s office said the negotiations had resulted in the Cuninico accepting “our request for the release” of the tourists.

“They set us all free,” Angela Ramirez, a Peruvian cyclist who was among the tourists, later told AFP via WhatsApp.

She added that there was “a lot of fear, a lot of tiredness” as the group awaited news of their fate and slowly ran out of water and food during the 28-hour ordeal.

September’s oil spill was caused by a rupture in the Norperuano oil pipeline, owned by state-owned Petroperu to transport crude oil from the Amazon to the Piura ports on the coast.

According to Petroperu, the spill was the result of a deliberate 21-centimeter cut in the pipeline pipe.

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