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Peru’s attorney general launched an investigation into new President Dina Boluarte and her ministers on allegations of genocide following a crackdown on violent protests gripping the country since last month, the Guardian reported.

The probe came after 17 civilians were killed in the country’s southern Puno region Monday – the most lethal day of protests since the removal of leftist President Pedro Castillo in December.

The top prosecutor’s office said Boluarte, Defense Minister Jorge Chavez and Interior Minister Victor Rojas face charges of “genocide, qualified homicide and serious injuries.”

The officials have not commented on the accusations.

The South American nation has been grappling with deadly unrest that has seen at least 40 people killed and hundreds injured since early December.

The unrest began following the removal and detention of Castillo, who illegally attempted to dissolve parliament and rule by decree – a move his opponents have described as a “coup.”

Castillo is currently in pre-trial detention, while authorities are investigating him on charges of inciting rebellion. He denies the allegations.

But the former president’s arrest sparked a wave of protests across the country from his supporters, with demonstrators demanding Castillo’s release, Boluarte’s resignation and the dissolution of congress.

The violence has also prompted reactions from the region and abroad: Former Bolivian President Evo Morales – an ally of Castillo – called for an end to what he says is the “genocide of our indigenous brothers.” Peruvian officials banned him this week from entering the country.

Meanwhile, a mission from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is scheduled to visit Peru this week to assess the situation.

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