updated 3/4/2007 5:48:12 PM ET 2007-03-04T22:48:12

Peru’s Congress has passed a new law stiffening penalties for attacks on tourists, making the maximum sentence for murdering or severely injuring a tourist life in prison.

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The law, which applies to both Peruvian and foreign tourists, was published Saturday in the official government gazette El Peruano. It was approved in a unanimous vote in Congress on Tuesday.

Previously, only crimes such as terrorism or rape of a minor carried a life sentence in Peru.

The new law also establishes a maximum prison sentence of 25 years for physical assault on a tourist or drugging a tourist during a robbery.

Robberies of tourists are common in Peru. In November 2005, police began patrolling Peru’s famed Inca Trail, which leads to the country’s top tourist destination, Machu Picchu, following an armed robbery of 13 tourists.

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