Peru anti-mining protest leader arrested near Cusco

Image caption,
Demonstrators are angry at the amount of royalties the mine is willing to pay to the local government

Peruvian police have arrested the leader of anti-mining protests a day after the government declared a state of emergency in a southern province.

Herbert Huaman was among several activists detained, following more than a week of demonstrations against a mining project by Swiss company Xstrata.

The copper mine dispute in Espinar province, near Cusco, is over environmental issues and pay.

Two protesters were killed on Monday.

The deaths prompted the Peruvian government to declare the state of emergency, which will be in place for 30 days.

Mr Huaman is the president of the Front for the Defence of Espinar.

Shortly before being arrested, he called on president Ollanta Humala to lift the state of emergency in Espinar "to initiate the dialogue and resolve the environmental problems".

In a statement, the Peruvian Interior Ministry said Mr Huaman was arrested because he was calling for more protests.

The statement adds that 24 other people have been arrested since the emergency measures came into force.

The mayor of Espinar, Oscar Mollohuanca Cruz, has gone into hiding to avoid detention.

Freedom of assembly has been suspended and police given special powers.

The government says the move is to restore public order.

This is the second anti-mining protest faced by Mr Humala in his 10-month presidency.

Last December, civil liberties were also restricted in the northern region of Cajamarca where opposition to the construction of a huge gold mine by an American company continues.