‘We are at war!’ Chile extends curfew, 1,000s of soldiers patrol streets as death toll in violent riots mounts (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
The Chilean Army has declared another curfew as it struggles to contain violence that was triggered by transport fare hikes in Santiago, but has since spilled over beyond the capital, fueled by outrage over social inequality.
To prevent looting and arson attacks, thousands of armed troops have been patrolling the capital over the weekend, under the state of emergency introduced in Chile for the first time since the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Following another day of clashes with protesters, the general in charge of security in Santiago announced an extension of the curfew until 6am on Monday morning.
“This is not an action against the citizens, these are not restrictions for the sake of restrictions,” said General Javier Iturriaga del Campo.
We do this to protect people’s lives.
Meanwhile, the death toll from the unrest increased to at least eight, after firefighters found five more bodies in the basement of a burnt-out warehouse. Earlier, three people were reported killed in two separate looting and arson attacks on supermarkets.
In a late-night televised statement from an army HQ in Santiago, President Sebastian Pinera said that the unrest had “a degree of organization, logistics, typical of a criminal organization” and urged Chileans to “unite in this battle against violence and delinquency.”
We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits.
Crowds of angry protesters have been setting fire to buses and metro stations, as well as looting shops and destroying public property, since Friday. Authorities reported over 100 “serious incidents” in which nearly 1,500 people were arrested across the country by Sunday, including 614 in Santiago alone.Also on rt.com Santiago in flames: Chile declares state of emergency as violent protests rock capital (PHOTOS)
The state of emergency has now been extended to five more cities besides Santiago – and over 9,000 armed soldiers are deployed in the streets. Defending the government’s heavy-handed response to the crisis, Pinera stated:
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.
In a bid to defuse the crisis, Pinera hastily reversed the contentious transport fare hike, but it was not enough, as a wider public discontent over the government’s economic policies and growing social inequality seems to have reached its tipping point.
Chile is facing it worst unrest in decades amid its year-long hosting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gatherings, and just as Santiago prepares to greet Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump and other world leaders next month.
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