An Australian tourist robbed at gunpoint during a frightening roadside ambush in Peru said his attackers were “kind”.
Sydney musician Tom Dundas, 27, was among 12 tourists robbed in Peru’s Cusco region.
Mr Dundas said the heavily armed attackers looked like mercenaries, but behaved more like nervous teenagers
“They kept saying the whole time, ‘we’re not going to hurt you’. They were kind,” Mr Dundas said.
The Pantiacolla tour group had been on their way to the pristine Manu National Park when three masked goons built a heavy wall of rocks across the narrow access road, forcing the bus to a grinding halt.
Then, wielding pistols, a semi-automatic weapon and a long knife, the attackers stormed the bus and bashed the driver around the head before sealing his eyes closed with masking tape.
They ushered each tourist out of the bus, one by one, and demanded they hand over cash, cameras and other valuables.
“They held a gun to our faces and forced us to hand it over,” Mr Dundas said.
Having stripped the terrified travellers of their loot, the attackers forced each of them to kneel in a ditch where they taped their hands behind their backs. Despite the bravado, the trio seemed nervous.
“They were shaking and they kept saying the whole time ‘don’t worry, we’re not going to hurt you'”, Mr Dundas said.
Although their faces were covered, the group guessed the Spanish-speaking trio were probably only 18 years old.
When the tourists signalled the tape around their wrists was too tight, they loosened it and even gave one man a soft bag to rest his head on.
“They were kind, they were trying to look after us.”
Mr Dundas, who had been visiting the renowned nature reserve after a friend’s wedding in the area, was stunned nonetheless.
“We were shocked,” he said.
“It was a little bit tense but we were all able to have a laugh about it afterwards.
“He managed to stash his cameras beside his bus seat, which meant he only gave away some cash and his wristwatch.
“I was pretty lucky,” he said.
The drama unfolded in the Tres Cruces area of the Cusco region, nearly 600km southeast of Lima.
A spokeswoman for Pantiacolla, one of only eight tour operators authorised to enter the World Heritage listed site, said such attacks were rare.
The Paucartambo police are investigating and the Australian consulate has been notified.