Around 70 tourists including Britons and Americans have been taken hostage by an indigenous group in Peru's Amazon rainforest, local media reports claim. The tourists were in a river boat that was being held up by the Amazonian tribe. There are also tourists from France, Spain, and Switzerland in the traveling group.
According to local media reports, the tourists were taken hostage by Cuninico tribe in the Loreto province, Peru's northernmost region, as they are trying to get attention from the state after constant oil spills in the Cuninico River. So far, it is not known if they have harmed any of the hostages but in all likelihood, they haven't, according to the local media.
Adventure Gone Wrong
The kidnapping of the 70 tourists seems to be quite well planned as the Cuninico plan to draw the government's attention. "[We want] to call the government's attention with this action, there are foreigners and Peruvians, there are about 70 people," Watson Trujillo, the leader of the Cuninico community, told Radio Programas del Perú (RPP Radio).
Local media was informed by community members that they could detain the tourists for six to eight days until a solution to the 2,500 tons of crude oil spill was reached. The group has reportedly already been held captive for some 24 hours.
According to RRP Radio, there is a one-month-old child, people with disabilities and impairments, pregnant women, and senior citizens among the hostages.
Trujillo claimed that his organization had taken the "extreme step" in an effort to put pressure on the government to send a delegation to investigate the environmental damage. Indigenous tribes had already begun to obstruct all river traffic in protest against the spill, which was brought on by a break in the Norperuano oil pipeline.
The leak that took place on September 16, resulted in the release of about 2,500 tonnes of crude oil into the river. The pipeline was constructed 40 years ago to transport crude oil 800 km from the Amazon region to Piura, on the Pacific coast, and is one of the largest pipelines in the South American country.
On September 27, the Cuninico and Urarinas settlements, which are home to some 2,500 indigenous people, received a 90-day state of emergency declaration from the Peruvian government.
In Great Danger
The safety and security of the hostages are now in the hands of the Peru government. Indigenous groups have prevented any boats from traveling down the river since Thursday in protest of the leak. The pipeline is controlled by the state-owned Petroper business, which has claimed that the leak was because of a sabotage of the pipe.
According to the company, its employees found "an intentional tear of 21 cm in the pipeline." This year, Petroper has recorded ten distinct attacks on its pipelines in the Loreto area, all of which resulted in oil spills.
Angela Ramirez, one of those being held, also claimed they may be held hostage for as long as eight days before a solution is found, according to RPP.
"Help us spread the word. We are in Cuninico. We are hostages of the indigenous community. There was an oil spill that caused two deaths," Ramirez wrote in an Instagram post.
"They have been very nice and respectful with us, but this is the only way for them to get the attention of the Government. The faster they get to be heard, the faster they will let us go.
"We are here from 10 am. We spent the night on the boat. There's not enough water to drink. The sun is out. There are babies, pregnant women and elderly people. And there's no more electricity to charge our phones."
Angela had been riding through the jungle of Peru eight days back when the tribe attempted to cross the Cuninico River by boat today but was stopped.