Chile: days of escalating protests

AFP , Monday 21 Oct 2019

Demonstrators clash against soldiers during a protest in Valparaiso, Chile, on October 21, 2019 - Chile's death toll has risen to 11, authorities said on Monday, after three days of violent demonstrations and looting that saw President Sebastian Pinera claim the country was 'at war'. (Photo: AFP)

Demonstrations against a hike in metro ticket prices in Chile's capital exploded into violence on October 18, unleashing widening protests over living costs and social inequality.

With 11 people killed and thousands of troops deployed, here is a recap of Chile's worst violence in years:

Subway Stations Burn 

On October 18 violence breaks out at protests over the price hikes as demonstrators clash with riot police in the capital.

The violence escalates into the night and several metro stations are hit with Molotov cocktails.

Nearly all the 164 metro stations are attacked and 41 are destroyed, some completely charred. The whole network is shut down.

At least 16 buses are torched. The ENEL power company building and a Banco Chile branch are set on fire.

Around midnight President Sebastian Pinera declares a state of emergency and deploys troops into Santiago.

Buildings Torched 

On October 19 hundreds of soldiers patrol Santiago for the first time since Chile returned to democracy in 1990.

Thousands of protesters bang pots and pans in the capital. There are also anti-government demonstrations in other cities such as Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.

Hooded demonstrators clash with riot police and soldiers in several areas of Santiago, including outside the presidential palace.

More buildings are torched, including a metro station, supermarkets and other stores.

In Valparaiso a building belonging to Chile's oldest newspaper, El Mercurio, is set on fire.

Authorities report more than 300 arrests and say 156 police and 11 civilians had been injured.

Pinera suspends the ticket price hike and calls for dialogue. Authorities announce an overnight curfew in Santiago.

First Deaths 

Unrest continues on October 20 with two women burning to death in the early hours in a blaze at a Walmart store in Santiago.

Police and soldiers tear gas and use water cannons against protesters in the capital, where nearly 10,000 troops and police have been deployed.

Rioters set fire to a garment factory in the city's Renca suburb. Five bodies are recovered.

Almost all public transport is paralysed in Santiago, with shops shuttered and flights cancelled.

Authorities report 103 serious incidents throughout the country with 1,462 people detained -- 614 in Santiago and 848 elsewhere.

"We are at war against a powerful, implacable enemy," Pinera tells reporters after an emergency meeting.

Santiago's curfew is extended for a second night and the state of emergency imposed in nine other regions.

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