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Peru protest over oil spill: Tourists held hostage by indigenous group released, official says


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A group of tourists travel in Peru Amazon, who was detained Thursday by an indigenous community to demand government action over an oil spill, was released Friday, according to Abel Chirock, head of the Loreto Ombudsman’s office.

Chirock told CNN on Friday that 140 passengers had been released.

Earlier, Wadson Trujillo, the leader of the Conneco community, confirmed to local media in Peru The RRP said his community had stopped the boats in an effort to pressure the government to take action over the oil spill, which disrupted their water supply. They were asking the government to declare a state of emergency due to the oil spill.

Among the tourists released on Friday was Angela Ramirez, a 28-year-old woman from Trujillo, Peru. She told CNN in a phone call that about 20 foreigners and dozens of local travelers were being held on boats along the Marañón River in Conneco by the indigenous community.

She said we were all released at about 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) and headed towards the town of Nauta, in Loreto County, in the coming hours.

“We hope to get there tomorrow morning; we had to change the boat because the boat we were traveling in had remains held by indigenous groups, but we were allowed to leave on another ship,” Ramirez said.

She said their release came after more than 28 hours of negotiations. “It’s finally over, I’m so happy and so relieved,” she told CNN.

Ramirez was traveling with a group of tourists consisting of women, children and foreigners. It added that among the passengers were “children, including a one-month-old baby, a pregnant woman, and the elderly.”

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On Friday, Peru’s deputy environment minister, Marilou Chihua, traveled to the region to mediate with indigenous groups who have been protesting against the oil spill along the Marañón River for nearly two months.

The government announced the expansion of the Environmental Emergency Ordinance to address the oil spill and persuade indigenous groups to release the tourists.

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