14 Wounded in Peru police shooting

Lima, May 6 (EFE).- Fourteen people were wounded Monday when Peruvian police opened fire on a van in the southeastern region of Cuxco, the victims and local authorities told the media.

The van was traveling from the town of Kepashiato to the city of Quillabamba, capital of La Convencion province, in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene or Mantaro Rivers, or VRAEM, region, where the armed forces are fighting drug traffickers and remnants of the Shining Path guerrilla group.

Police stopped the van to investigate who was among the passengers and driver Romulo Albidon Fuentes later told RPP radio he answered that they were pregnant women and children.

However, the officers accused them of being drug traffickers and terrorists and opened fire on the van, according to the version that justice of the peace Juan Mamani Chalco provided to the Web edition of Lima daily El Comercio.

"I heard a loud noise and they fired without mercy for more than a minute. Then they came toward us and threw us to the ground like dogs, they mistreated us without regard for us at all," the van driver told RPP.

According to the victims, the same police officers who fired at them then helped get them to a nearby clinic.

At least six people with more serious wounds were taken to the Quillabamba hospital, the media reported.

Peru's Armed Forces Joint Command said a mixed police-army patrol shot out the van's tires after someone fired at the security forces from inside the vehicle.

The command said in a statement that the patrol "signaled (the van) to stop" about 2:30 a.m. in the Echarate district.

"At the moment they ordered the van to stop, the patrol was fired at from the vehicle, and that's the reason why the (police) undertook the corresponding procedures to detain it," the command said.

The head of the Joint Command, Jose Cueto, told RPP that the officers fired at the van's tires, and "we did not shoot to kill."