LIMA, PERU, OCT. 14 -- Paramilitary police stormed the nation's two largest private banks today to force implementation of President Alan Garcia's program to nationalize Peru's financial system.
Police in an armored car broke down a door to the headquarters of the Banco de Credito -- Peru's largest and oldest bank -- and ushered a state management team inside to run the bank, an employe said.
Authorities posted armored personnel carriers around the bank and fired tear gas to disperse bystanders and reporters who watched the assault from nearby streets.
Police smashed windows, roughed up employes and took film from photographers at the Banco de Credito, said a reporter for the independent Radio Cadena station, which was broadcasting from inside the bank headquarters.
Hundreds of paramilitary police in another operation seized control of the nation's second largest private bank, Banco Wiese, and an investment agency.
The government suspended all trading earlier today on the Lima Stock Exchange and pledged to carry out its plan to expropriate 33 private banks, insurance companies and investment agencies despite legal challenges.
The move heightened tension between Garcia's center-left government and business owners, who claim the takeover under an expropriation law passed by Congress Sept. 29 runs against judicial restraining orders.