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Peru group seizes police station
Updated: 2005-01-02 08:58

An armed group led by a radical former soldier stormed a police station in a poor southern town and took 10 officers hostage on Saturday to demand the resignation of Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo.

Some of the group, joined by townspeople, later peacefully took over the town hall, RPP radio reported from the scene.

Seven people were injured in a gunfight after former army Maj. Antauro Humala and around 150 followers burst into the police station in Andahuaylas, 560 miles southeast of Lima, at 2:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) on New Year's Day, Peru's National Police said.

Humala and RPP reported one person died in the morning's violence but that could not immediately be confirmed.

"We won't leave the station until Toledo resigns, but I am also prepared to engage in dialogue," Humala told RPP radio.

The president called a Cabinet session on Saturday to address the violence in the town of 26,000, cutting short his holiday at a northern beach resort to fly back to Lima.

Prime Minister Carlos Ferrero dismissed Humala's military-inspired movement as a fringe group out-of-touch with real Peruvians and probably funded by drug-trafficking.

"This minority group is trying to put out a message that is completely at odds with the reality of the country. The armed forces and the national police will restore order and those who broke it will be brought to justice," he told RPP radio.

Police reinforcements were being sent to the area, said police chief Felix Murazzo, who offered no details.

Five of the wounded were police officers, said Alder Malpartida, head of the local hospital. One policeman and one civilian were in a serious condition.

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