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Breaking--At Least 13 People Died in Covid Raid in Peru

 At least 13 people died or asphyxiated as partygoers tried to flee a Lima nightclub raided by police because it was open in violation of restrictions imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

At least six were injured, including three police officers, as around 120 people tried to escape the Thomas Restobar club on Saturday night (Aug 22) as police arrived to break up a party on its second floor, national police and government officials said.

"In these circumstances when people begin to fight to get out, it's tumultuous, everyone goes against each other," Orlando Velasco of the National Police told local radio station RPP.

The crush happened as revellers tried to leave the Thomas Restobar Club in Lima's Los Olivos district.

Neighbours had alerted police about the raucous event at the club in the Los Olivos district of the Peruvian capital.

Peru imposed a night-time curfew in March, and this month re-imposed a ban on large gatherings.

Peru's interior minister said around 120 people had attended the illegal birthday gathering on Saturday. After police raided the club, the partygoers "tried to escape through the single exit, trampling each other and getting trapped in the stairway".

The ministry says police "did not use any type of weapon or tear gas" during the operation but this was disputed by at least one local resident who told RPP radio: "It appears that police entered and threw tear gas canisters at them, and boxed them in."

Women's Minister Rosario Sasieta condemned the organisers of the party. "It should never have happened. We are in a pandemic, in a health emergency. I am calling for the maximum punishment possible for the nightclub owners," she told RPP.

The Latin American country has recorded more than 576,000 cases of coronavirus cases and more than 27,000 fatalities.

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