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Peru police kill 1 in clash with coca growers

At least one farmer died Tuesday when police cleared a roadblock set by coca growers demanding the government halt efforts to eradicate coca plantations.
/ Source: Reuters

At least one farmer died Tuesday when police cleared a roadblock set by coca growers demanding the government halt efforts to eradicate coca plantations in the world's top producer of the leaf, used to make cocaine.

The clash, which injured at least two other growers, occurred in the Padre Abad province of the region of Ucayali, 484 miles east of the capital of Lima.

Juan Zarate, the director of the eradication program in the area, said police forcefully responded to protesters carrying guns.

Violence associated with eradication is relatively rare though it may intensify as President Alan Garcia comes under additional pressure to slow the spread of coca.

The United Nations recently said Peru has overtaken Colombia as the biggest grower and Peru resumed eradication efforts in January after a long pause.

In the country's main coca growing regions, the Alto Huallaga and the Ene and Apurimac valleys, police and soldiers trying to catch drug runners periodically fight with remnant bands of leftist Shining Path rebels who moved into the cocaine trade after their leaders were captured in the 1990s for waging a war against the state.