Peru: 9 cops killed in rescue bid

LIMA: Nine police hostages have been killed and seven are missing after an attempt to rescue 38 of their rank held by Indians in the Peruvian Amazon.

Twenty-two of the hostages were freed in the military raid, which took place in Peru's jungle-covered north, police chief Miguel Hidalgo said.

It is the latest in a series of running clashes between the security forces and indigenous groups, who have been protesting against government land polices.

"Of the 38 police officers who were taken hostage at the (petrol) facility, where they were providing security protection ... 22 have been rescued by the army, nine have died at the hands of the natives and seven have disappeared," Hidalgo told local radio station RPP.

Earlier, on Friday, local officials said at least 11 police officers and seven Indians were killed in violent protests.

The actual death toll remains unclear, with one protest leader claiming that 25 Indians were killed in the clashes, a figure not independently verified.

Fighting broke out when some 400 police officers moved in to break up a roadblock stopping traffic along a highway near the town of Bagua, about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of Lima.

Some 2,500 Indian protesters, many carrying spears, had been blocking the highway with tree trunks and boulders.

The protesters want decrees signed by President Alan Garcia in 2007 and 2008 easing restrictions on mining, oil drilling, wood harvesting and farming in the Amazon rainforest overturned.