Chile coup anniversary leaves 14 wounded, 179 arrested

AFP, Friday 12 Sep 2014

A student is detained by riot police inside a public school next to a drawing of former President Salvador Allende in Valparaiso city. 11 September 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Fourteen people were wounded and 179 arrested during unrest that broke out on the 41st anniversary of the coup that brought Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to power, police said Friday.

The unrest was however less destructive than in previous years' commemorations of the September 11 anniversary, a date that remains deeply divisive in the South American country.

Violent protests, gunfights and clashes with police routinely break out around events marking the day when Air Force planes bombed the presidential palace in 1973, overthrowing socialist president Salvador Allende, who committed suicide as troops stormed the building.

On Thursday, protesters burned a city bus in southern Santiago and barricaded streets in the capital, which also saw isolated gunfire and power outages that hit 120,000 homes.

Ten of the wounded were police officers.

But police commander Alejandro Olivares said the day had ended with "50 percent fewer personnel wounded and 40 percent fewer arrests, damage to (public) buses and private vehicles burned" compared to one year ago.

The country had been on edge after a recent series of unclaimed homemade bomb attacks, including one on a Santiago subway station Monday that wounded 14 people.
The authorities received 35 bomb threats Thursday, but all turned out to be false alarms.

The commemorations otherwise passed peacefully, with Chileans leaving flowers and lighting candles at sites used as detention centers and torture chambers during the regime's "dirty war" against leftist opponents.

Some 3,200 people were killed and 38,000 tortured during the 1973-1990 dictatorship, according to the government.

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