BAGUA, Peru — President Alan Garcia accused Amazon Indians of "barbarity" Sunday in the killing of 22 members of a paramilitary police force sent to break up anti-development protests.
While the blockades that had halted the flow of oil out of the jungle appeared mostly disbanded, and Indians went into hiding fearing arrest, native groups nevertheless seized a remote airport Sunday and refused to abandon a key jungle roadblock.
Protesters interviewed by The Associated Press, meanwhile, said the police attack early Friday was unprovoked, and they couldn't be expected to stand by as officers mowed them down with gunfire.
In a speech in Lima, Garcia accused Indians opposed to oil, gas and other development on their native lands of impeding progress, either through "elemental ignorance" or manipulation by outside interests he didn't name.
Funerals were held for six of the fallen officers in Lima. Two officers who survived the melee in Amazonas state described on national TV from their hospital beds how Indians had slain comrades who surrendered.
"They even tortured those they killed," said patrolman Fredegundo Vasquez.
Garcia said he deplored the killings and sent police reinforcements to Bagua, a sweltering Amazonas state district located 450 miles (730 kilometers) north of Lima.
"When one thinks of the final moments of those officers who were disarmed, tied up and then had their throats slit like animals, one understands the barbarity and savageness," Garcia said.
Heavily armed police killed at least 30 Indians, according to protest leaders, after moving Friday to open a road natives had blocked since April 9. The protests had cut off oil and gas flow from the Amazon and prevented food, medicine and gasoline from getting in, according to the government.
Indians say police burned or threw some bodies into the Maranon river beside the highway to hide the true death toll.
"We have brothers who still haven't been found," said Euclides Calvo, a 28-year-old student and Wampi Indian who was among 2,500 men manning the roadblock.
Calvo said the protesters were unarmed when police attacked, except for the spears some carried as "symbols of our identity." He said he witnessed local indigenous leader Santiago Manuin, who was among 155 wounded, being shot repeatedly as he approached police trying to persuade them to stop firing.
A 3 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew was imposed Saturday in Bagua and Utcubamba provinces, where the protests were centered. The curfew was still in effect Sunday.
The political violence is the Andean country's worst since the Shining Path insurgency was quelled more than a decade ago and bodes ill for Garcia's ambitious plans to boost Peru's oil, gas and mineral output and spur logging and biofuel development.
Nine of the slain police had been seized at an oil pumping station owned by the state petroleum company Petroperu, and two officers remained missing on Sunday.
Protest leader Alberto Pizango went into hiding after a judge on Saturday issued a warrant for his arrest on sedition charges. His replacement, Champion Nonimgo, called Sunday for the Organization of American States and other international bodies to investigate the violence.
Meanwhile, about 30 Achuar Indians _ including women and children _ took over the tarmac of the small Trompetero airport Sunday in the neighboring jungle state of Loreto. The airport is used by Pluspetrol, an Argentine oil company, according to a Pluspetrol official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the news media.
Another undetermined number of Indians continued to block a highway between the nearby jungle cities of Tarapoto and Yurimaguas, authorities said.
Indians have been blocking roads, waterways and occupying oil facilities on and off since early April, demanding Peru's government repeal laws they say help foreign companies exploit their lands.
The laws, decreed by Garcia as he implemented a Peru-U.S. free trade pact, open communal jungle lands and water resources to oil drilling, logging, mining and large-scale farming.
Indian leaders and environmental groups say the decrees violate Peru's constitution and break international law because Garcia's administration has failed to get Indian consent for the projects.
The government owns all subsoil rights across the country.
Associated Press Writers Tamy Higa, Carla Salazar and Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report.