Two dead, dozens injured, buildings ablaze as Fujimori takes oath in Peru

LIMA, Peru - Peruvians furious with the inauguration of Alberto Fujimori as Peru's president set government buildings ablaze Friday and chanted ''the dictatorship will fall!'' Tear gas and smoke turned the skies over the capital dark amid pitched street battles that left at least two dead and dozens injured.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators - some peaceful, but others throwing rocks and breaking windows - filled the streets.

Inside the heavily guarded Congress building, a beaming Fujimori ignored the unrest sparked by a May 28 re-election many said was fraudulent and celebrated the beginning of an unprecedented third five-year term. It was also his 62nd birthday.

Fujimori wore the red-and-white presidential sash and raised his arms in a victory sign as opposition congressmen shouted insults and waved signs that read ''New Elections Now.'' As Fujimori began his inaugural address, they walked out in protest of a vote tainted by charges of widespread fraud.

The bodies of two men, apparently security guards, were found in the ashes of a state bank that was set ablaze, Fire Cmdr. Victor Podesta said. At least 80 more people - police and demonstrators - were injured in the protests, four of them with bullet wounds, hospital officials said.

One of those hurt was a bloody-faced foreign journalist who was taken away in an ambulance after being hit in the face by a flying tear gas canister. It was unclear who the correspondent worked for.

As Fujimori swore to respect the country's constitution, riot police outside fired bullets in the air and tear gas into the crowds. A fire burned out of control in the lobby of the former Education Ministry, one of the tallest office towers in downtown Lima. Later, protesters' fires gutted a state bank building and the building housing the National Elections Board.

Black smoke poured from the buildings and mixed with pungent tear gas. At one point a jetfighter screeched overhead as black-clad riot police and demonstrators battled on the streets below. Some 40,000 police had been called out, and the office of the human rights ombudsman said 80 people were detained.

Smaller protests also erupted in Arequipa, Peru's second-largest city, some 465 miles southeast of Lima. The violence was unusual in a region where peaceful democratic elections have become commonplace.

Fujimori's vow to protect the constitution provoked jeers from opposition congressmen, who accuse him of violating it many times during his decade in power. Others held a sign that read ''Majority Bought,'' a reference to accusations Fujimori gained control of the legislature by paying opposition congressmen to jump ship to give his alliance a majority.

The president pledged to ''strengthen democratic institutions ... and generate jobs and prosperity.''

The protesters had been called by opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo, who boycotted the May presidential runoff and accused Fujimori of planning to rig the results. He had planned to discredit Friday's inauguration by organizing thousands for an outpouring of ''peaceful resistance,'' but violence quickly erupted as demonstrators marched toward Congress.

Toledo blamed the unrest on pro-Fujimori infiltrators sent to discredit the protesters.

''Peru does not want violence,'' said the 54-year-old Stanford-trained economist.

Demonstrators blocked firefighters trying to extinguish the Education Ministry blaze, hurling long poles and shattering its lobby windows as black smoke rose over the rooftop. The two sides fought over fire hoses and firefighters pleaded with demonstrators to let them combat the flames and allow three injured building guards to be evacuated in ambulances. They got out.

Later in the afternoon, hundreds reached the Plaza de Armas, the 465-year-old colonial heart of Lima. There they attacked the National Palace - the president's official residence - hurling rocks, breaking windows and chipping away at the concrete cornices of the historic building. They set bonfires before police charged out of side streets and drove them away with tear gas.

They also attacked the nearby Palace of Justice, Peru's main court building and a hated symbol of corruption in the legal system for many Peruvians.

Only about 1,500 of the protesters appeared to be trying to break past police lines. Demonstration leaders urged people to stop throwing rocks, but were ignored.

Television footage showed troopers chasing demonstrators through clouds of wafting tear gas. Protesters fled into side streets, coughing and choking. Some dropped to the ground and appeared to faint.

The injured foreign journalist's face and head were covered in blood after he was hit by the tear gas canister that shattered his gas mask. An Associated Press correspondent said he watched as the journalist was helped into an ambulance and taken away.

A Peruvian journalist, Paola Ugaz of the opposition weekly Caretas, said she helped the man after the canister hit him in the face and apparently broke his nose. She said his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. No details of his condition were available.

Friday's violence followed a peaceful rally Thursday by 80,000 Fujimori opponents. Throngs chanted ''Democracy, yes! Dictatorship, no!'' and ''The dictatorship is going to fall!'' and held a red banner emblazoned with the word ''DEMOCRACIA.''

In a fiery speech Thursday night to kick off the protests, Toledo said: ''We are going to rescue liberty and democracy from the clutches of the dictator.''


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