Panama Indians seek release of detained protesters

February 6, 2012 - 10:25 PM
APTOPIX Panama Protest

Riot police run to clear a road blockade set by members of the Ngobe-Bugle ethnic group at the Pan American highway in El Vigui, Panama, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Ngobe-Bugle people blocked roads in two provinces on the border with Costa Rica to protest against mineral exploitation on their lands. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Indigenous groups in Panama are demanding the release of anti-mining protesters detained when police used tear gas to clear blockades of the Pan-American highway.

The Coalition of Indigenous Peoples and Farmworkers is also demanding police withdraw from an Indian enclave after Sunday's clashes, which left a protester dead, 40 people injured and 44 people arrested.

Coalition leader Liborio Miranda said Monday the demands are a prerequisite for opening talks with the government.

Sympathy protests blocked highways in other parts of the country Monday.

The blockades were set up by members of the Ngobe-Bugle tribe who fear mining projects and dams will affect watersheds on their land in western Panama.