Guerrilla sabotage that cut electric power and fouled the water supply caused havoc for a fourth day Friday among Lima residents already plagued by increased terrorism and a crippled economy.
"We are in the middle of total chaos. There is a complete lack of government," Labor leader Flavio Rojas told reporters.Near Ayacucho, gunmen shot a journalist and blew up his body. In nearby Huancavelica, guerrillas killed two high school teachers and a parent, authorities said Friday.
Prices of food and other goods have doubled since Tuesday, when the center-left government of President Alan Garcia implemented austerity measures to pull Peru from its worst recession this century and slow annual inflation, which has soared to more than 1,200 percent.
But the measures have not brought an end to long lines for such basic foods as milk, sugar, rice and bread.
Food shortages developed during the past month, adding to scarcities in other consumer and industrial items such as drugs and tires. The scarcities are due in great measure to a lack of dollar reserves to pay for imports.
The dollar shortage has been aggravated by a paralyzing, 37-day-old strike in the mineral industry, which produces more than 50 percent of Peru's export earnings.
On Thursday, most of the capital's bank employees went on strike for higher wages.
"Our country is a mess," said Guillermina de Canales, an elderly woman waiting in long line at a food market. "There are these long lines and then the deaths from terrorism. No one can restore order to Peru."
The austerity measures came hours after Mao-inspired Shining Path guerrillas blew up strategic power pylons high in the Andes, sparking a widepread power failure which also crippled Lima's water purification system.
Since early Tuesday, Lima's water has been undrinkable. The blackout is affecting about 60 percent of this capital city of 7 million, officials said.
Businesses have been forced to reduce or halt operations.
Warnings by city officials to use only bottled or boiled tap water have been difficult to comply with due to a rapid sellout in stores of mineral water and the lack of electricty to boil water.
Slum residents have complained that the water is causing children to develop diarrhea.
Lima's electrical supply has been sabotaged dozens of times since the Shining Path launched its guerrilla war eight years ago. But the current outage is the longest since 1983.
The rebels also have stepped up attacks since the weekend. Officials said dozens of people have been killed in the mountains and jungle, including at least 22 soldiers.