Famous Japanese archaeologist Izumi Shimada brought to our attention not many months ago the systematic destruction of the Sicán pyramids and algarobo forests by invasores – squatters who illegaly occupy land. Rushing to Peru and forced to abandon his teaching position in South Illinois University, he attempted to make local authorities to take action. Unfortunately, regional police chief Víctor Ordinola explained his force was too busy preparing for independence day festivities.
It had been almost 7 years since the natural and archaeological sanctuary of the Bosque de Pomac had been invaded and settled. The destruction was immediate, with vast areas of natural habitat for endangered species destroyed. With the destruction of part of an ancient Sicán temple, and after a six month delay, local authorities yesterday decided to act.
Ignoring months of recent warnings to leave, the settlers had cut down tonnes more trees to block police access to the site, also digging trenches. This was cleared in the first half of the day, allowing police, armed with only shields and tear gas to enter the makeshift town to start clearing houses. Unfortunately, the police had underestimated the murderous animals who had made their homes there.
Without warning, the police were attacked by settlers armed with guns, knives, molotovs and simple sticks with nails. The angry crowd were out to kill. One police officer caught a bullet in his stomach. As another tried to help his fallen collegue, he was shot and killed instantly. According to a photographer for El Comercio, the settlers surrounded and attacked both police officers and journalists. Two police officers were killed, seven more injured. One local journalist was shot, but is in a stable condition.
José Ubaldo, the police general in charge of the operation, spoke appologeticaly to the Peruvian public. In trying to operate in accordance with human rights laws and evicting illegals without carrying deadly weapons, two families had lost their loved ones.
Today, a second attempt at removing the settlers is under way. This time in will be led by 25 specialist officers from Lima and 500 locals, all this time fully armed and able to defend themselves.