23 dead as violent unrest in Chile enters the fifth week



Nearby, hooded men were squaring off against police, who broke up the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.

Meanwhile, about a hundred people protested outside the Costanera Center, the largest mall in South America, as around twenty riot police guarded the entrance to the building.

– Violence rages –

While protests earlier in the week not been huge, the outbursts of violence multiplied in the capital’s metro area on Thursday and Friday.

The anger in the streets had eased after last week’s agreement by Congress to draft a new Constitution.

But with people back on the streets in force again, President Sebastian Pinera’s government again appealed for calm.

Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel issued a “deep and sincere call to all political forces” to end the unrest.

But in Quilicura, north of Santiago, a shopping centre was set on fire and looted by a crowd while in Puente Alto, another working-class area, a gas station, a police headquarters and businesses were attacked.

In the northern city of Antofagasta, a motorist injured five people when he ran down protesters, while a supermarket was ransacked.

Looting, barricades and fires were also recorded in the port of Valparaiso and the city of Vina del Mar, and in Concepcion in the south.

“This situation … affects our offer to take charge,” said police general Enrique Basseletti, after complaints from people irate that they had not seen police on their streets.

Blumel said that 2,500 trainee police officers would be put on the streets early to bolster the force.

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