Two dead as new wave of Chile protests break out

A demonstrator returns a tear gas canister fired by the security forces during a protest against Chile’s government in Valparaiso

SANTIAGO, Jan 31 (NNN-AGENCIES) — A young man has died after being hit by a hijacked bus in Santiago, the second fatality in renewed unrest in the Chilean capital, police said.

The Transantiago bus that hit the 22-year-old, who died in hospital early on Thursday, had been stolen moments earlier by masked assailants, the Carabineros national police said in a statement.

The man had been protesting at a barricade in the south of the capital.

Protesters at the scene severely beat the man who was behind the wheel, inflicting serious injuries, and set fire to the bus, police said.

More than three months of protests in Chile have left at least 30 people dead, at times bringing the South American country to a standstill.

On Tuesday night, a fan of Santiago-based football team Colo Colo died after he was hit by a police van during clashes between supporters and security forces following a local match.

Colo Colo fans held a protest on Wednesday over the death, burning barricades in the streets around their team’s stadium and also torching the local metro station, a police station and a shop.

The protest was led by the Garra Blanca group, one of a number of fan groups known as barra bravas that are akin to Europe’s football hooligans.

They also have joined in protests against President Sebastian Pinera while ordinary fans have also sung songs at matches against the ruling party and its leader.

In the south of Santiago, a local government office was torched and at least three supermarkets looted in the latest flare-up.

Two police stations elsewhere in Santiago were attacked while violence also broke out in the towns of Valparaiso, in the centre, and Concepcion in the south.

Unrest broke out on Oct 18 initially against a modest hike in metro fares in Santiago.

It quickly mushroomed into wider protests against social inequality.

Pinera has launched a raft of measures to try to quell the unrest including a raise in the minimum wage and state pensions, and health reforms.

He will also hold a referendum in April on changing the dictatorship-era constitution.

But while the frequency and intensity of protests have subsided since October, they have continued regularly nonetheless. — NNN-AGENCIES


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