8 dead in Chile mass riots over metro price hike

SANTIAGO, OCT 21 (IANS) | Publish Date: 10/21/2019 12:41:49 PM IST

Eight people have been killed so far in the mass riots across Chile over the government move to increase the local metro fares. The toll increased on Sunday after firefighters confirmed that five people died in a clothing store fire in the capital city’s Renca commune, reports Efe news.

The store caught fire after being looted during rioting, which broke out Friday over social inequality and scarcities but was sparked by complaints about the government increasing the local metro fares.

Earlier Sunday, violence continued in the capital and elsewhere with heavy clashes between protesters and security forces, looting, fires and pillaging.

Authorities Saturday afternoon had confirmed the death of three people after finding a body in a supermarket that was torched earlier in the day in Santiago - the latest fatality after two others died under similar circumstances.

“We are at war with a powerful and relentless enemy that respects nothing and no one, and is willing to use violence without any limit even if it means the loss of human lives, for the sole purpose of producing as much damage as possible,” Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told the media on Sunday

The Chilean lower house of congress approved a bill eliminating the metro fair price hike on Sunday evening. The bill passed in a 103-1 vote, with one abstention, and will now be forwarded to the Senate for ratification Monday.

Pinera submitted the bill on an urgent basis aimed at ending the violent protests that have beset the country over the past few days.

“They are at war against all Chileans who want to live in democracy,” he said of the protesters.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said 32 people are hospitalized in the Metro Region, 10 of them in serious condition, and that 208 people were given medical care for assorted lesser injuries.

A state of emergency has been in place in five Chilean regions since Saturday morning: almost the entire capital, Valparaiso, Concepcion, the communes of Coquimbo and La Serena in the Coquimbo region, and in the Rancagua commune since Sunday morning.

In addition, a curfew was decreed in Santiago, Valparaiso and Concepcion, as well as in La Serena, Coquimbo and Valdivia, and authorities have announced it will continue in those cities between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.


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