Thousands march on Peru's capital as unrest spreads, building set ablaze

By Marco Aquino LIMA (Reuters) -Thousands of protesters in Peru, many from the country's heavily indigenous south, descended on Lima, the capital, on Thursday, angered by

a mounting death toll since unrest erupted last month and calling for sweeping change. Police estimated the march at around 3,500 people, but others speculated it attracted

more than double that. Rows of police in riot gear faced off against rock-hurling protesters on some streets, and one historic building in the city's historic center caught

fire late on Thursday. The building, on San Martin Plaza, was empty when the massive blaze ignited from unknown causes, a firefighter commander told local

radio. Canada-based miner Hudbay said in a statement that protesters had entered the site of its Peru unit, damaging and burning key machinery and vehicles. "This has

not been a protest; this has been a sabotage of the rule of law," Prime Minister Alberto Otarola said Thursday evening alongside President Dina Boluarte and other government

ministers. Interior Minister Vicente Romero disputed claims circulating on social media that the Lima blaze had been caused by a police officer's tear gas

grenade. Over the past month, raucous and sometimes deadly protests have led to the worst violence Peru has seen in more than two decades, as many in poorer, rural regions

vent anger at the Lima establishment over inequality and rising prices, testing the copper-rich Andean nation's democratic institutions.