Indigenous people in the Amazon in Peru have detained a group of Peruvian and foreign tourists, including UK and US citizens, in protest at a lack of government aid following an oil spill in the area.

“[We want] to call the government’s attention with this action, There are foreigners and Peruvians, there are about 70 people,” Watson Trujillo, the leader of the Cuninico community, told RPP radio.

French, Spanish and Swiss citizens are also among the detained tourists, who were held while travelling on a river boat.

Trujillo said his group had taken the “radical measure” in an effort to put pressure on the government to send a delegation to assess the environmental damage from the spillage of 2,500 tons of crude oil into the Cuninico River on 16 September.

The detainees would spend the night inside the vessel while awaiting a solution to the situation, he added. Trujillo said he would return to the boat on Friday to consider whether to release them.

The government and police did not comment on the incident, which took place on a tributary of the Marañón River.

Indigenous communities had already been blocking the transit of all vessels on the river in protest against the spill, which was caused by a rupture in the Norperuano oil pipeline.

On 27 September, the government declared a 90-day state of emergency in the region, which is home to the Cuninico and Urarinas communities and where about 2,500 indigenous people live.

The 800km-long Norperuano pipeline, owned by the state-owned Petroperu, was built four decades ago to transport crude oil from the Amazon region to Piura, on the coast.

According to Petroperu, the spill was the result of an intentional 21cm cut in the pipeline.

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