At least 49 people were injured Wednesday in the city of Abancay, capital of the southern Peruvian Andean region of Apurimac, during clashes with police who were trying to open an important road blocked by protesting teachers, media reports said.

The teachers, called out by a sector of the education union (known as Sutep), blocked the highway linking Abancay with the southern city of Cuzco early Wednesday morning, preventing dozens of automobiles and passenger transport vehicles from moving through the area.

According to Radio Programas del Peru, the teachers took control of the highway as part of a strike they staged to demand salary hikes and the payment of a series of benefits.

A source in the area told Efe that the injuries occurred when the police tried to unblock the highway and the strikers said that one of the demonstrators received a gunshot wound, although that report has not been officially confirmed.

The teachers protest comes in addition to a 48-hour strike called by the Popular Organizations Front of Abancay, which is rejecting the efforts of the regional president Elias Segovia.

In spite of that, the general secretary of Sutep, Rene Ramirez, told local television Canal N that his organization is not linked to the protests that are occurring in that region.

"Unfortunately, these comrades do not respect our organic instruments ... We have not called any strike in the country," he said.

Ramirez said that Sutep currently it engaging in a dialogue with the Peruvian government authorities and that it hopes that by Friday it will receive a response to its demands for economic and labor improvements.

"We've decided to give until July 6 for complete results to be provided, (but) if there is no (agreement) the assembly has given us the authority to restart our actions of struggle," he said.

The protests in Abancay are in addition to other similar demonstrations that are being held Wednesday in southern Peruvian cities like Arequipa, Puno and Ayacucho, and in Cajamarca in the north, where on Tuesday three people died in clashes between police and protesters opposed to a mining project. EFE