Five people have died after a garment factory was torched by looters near Chile’s capital Santiago on Sunday after protests against fare revision in public transportation turned violent, AFP reported. With this, the toll in the unrest rose to seven.
President Sebastian Pinera said the government will extend a state of emergency and deploy troops onto the streets to contain the protests. “We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits,” Pinera said in a late-night televised statement at army headquarters in Santiago.
“Democracy not only has the right, it has the obligation to defend itself using all the instruments that democracy itself provides, and the rule of law to combat those who want to destroy it,” he added.
The demonstrations led by students began two weeks ago over fare increase on public transport, and widened over the days to protest against rising living costs and social inequality. The violence prompted Pinera to suspend his decision on fare revision on Saturday.
Firefighters said five people died in a garment factory burned by rioters in Renca, a northern suburb of Santiago.
Interior Minister Andres Chadwick addressing a news conference on Sunday night said that the decision to extend the emergency measure came amid an “escalation of violence and vandalism”, Reuters reported. He said 70 “serious incidents of violence” took place on Sunday, including the looting of 40 supermarkets and other businesses.
He added the state of emergency applied in Santiago early on Saturday would be applied to Antofagasta, Valparaiso, Valdivia, Chillan, Talca, Temuco and Punta Arenas.
Prosecutors said 1,462 people had been charged by mid-afternoon on Sunday in connection with that day’s protests. This followed 179 arrests in Santiago on Saturday.
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