Security forces have opened fire on highland farmers protesting a $7.4 billion Chinese-owned Las Bambas copper mining project, leaving three people dead and almost 17 injured in Peru, a local health director said on Monday.
Three of the wounded were critically ill, said Percy Jeronimo, the oral surgeon running the emergency room.
Jose Soplopuco, the local health director alleged that a vehicle carrying doctors had been shot at and was therefore was not able to reach the scene of the incident as quickly as needed.
According to Uriel Condori, a councilor with the government of Challhuahuacho in the southern region of Apurima, one man died from a bullet wound when the clashes broke out.
President Ollanta Humala said members of his cabinet spoke with the local authorities in Apurimac.
"The state has not abandoned the people of Challhuahuacho. We regret this situation and the loss of life," Humala told reporters.
The Las Bambas copper project belongs to the Chinese state giant China Minmetals Corp. The project aims to begin production next year and produce 400,000 metric tonnes of copper in 2017.
According to President Ollanta Humala this is the biggest project in Peru’s history. Peru is the world’s third largest producer of copper.
Local farmers object to a change to the mine's plan they believe threatens the environment.