UPDATE: No Belgians among tourists taken hostage in Peru after all
There were no Belgians among the group of tourists taken hostage in Peru in protest against an oil spill after all, Belgium's FPS Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed on Saturday. The country's foreign affairs office had earlier stated that "a number of Belgians" were among the hostages.
On Thursday, a group of tourists were taken hostage by indigenous Peruvians from the Amazon region on a ship on the Maranon River. They were released on Friday after negotiations with authorities.
The group of people held hostage included tourists from the United States, Spain, France, Britain, Switzerland and Germany. The Belgian FPS Foreign Affairs earlier stated that "a number of Belgians" were among the hostages as well, but this turned out not to be true.
The hostage action was aimed at forcing the Peruvian government to address the oil leak from a pipeline of the energy company Petroperu. Among other things, the activists demanded that a state of emergency be declared. Petroperu claims the pipeline has been deliberately damaged, with more than 50 recorded cases since December last year. The company says it is cleaning up the pollution and providing drinking water and food to residents.
A handout picture released by Peru's Prosecutor's Office showing the oil flow on the River Cuninico, a major contributor to the Amazon River, in the jungle region of Loreto on September 16, 2022. Following contamination complaints by several native communities, Petroperu confirmed on September 18, 2022 a sabotage attack on the Nor-Peruvian Pipeline, which caused the oil spill © Handout / Peru's Public Prosecutor's Office / AFP