Until recently, the protests had been concentrated in the south of the country. They began last month after then-President Pedro Castillo, Peru’s first leader with a rural Andean background, was indicted and jailed for trying to dissolve Congress.

The protesters are demanding the resignation of Boluarte, the former vice president who took office on December 7 to replace Castillo. They also want Congress dissolved and new elections held. Castillo is currently in custody on charges of rebellion.

More than 55 people have been killed in the ensuing riots, most recently on Friday night when a protester was killed and at least nine others injured in clashes with police in Puno. A total of 21 protesters and one police officer have been killed in the southern region.

On Saturday morning, the police used a small tank to break into the National University of San Marcos in the morning.

Javier Cutipa, 39, who was traveling by bus from Puno, had been sleeping on the floor there since Thursday, but left for breakfast just before police arrived. He described the police action as «practically an assault», with helicopters, tear gas and small tanks.

“This outrages us. The only thing the government is doing with these arrests is worsening tensions,” Cutipa said. He added that «when the population finds out about this, they will react in a more radical way.»

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the law enforcement offices where the detainees were being held Saturday night chanting «Freedom» and «We are students, not terrorists.» More congregated in other points in the center of Lima.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed «concern over the police incursion, eviction, and mass arrests» at the university and urged the State to «guarantee the integrity and due process of all persons.»