Chilean authorities have extended a state of emergency to cities in the nation’s north and south after at least seven people died amid violent clashes and arson attacks over the weekend.
Interior minister Andres Chadwick said on Sunday night that the decision to extend the emergency measure came amid an “escalation of violence and vandalism,” two weeks after protests led by students began over fare hikes on public transport, Reuters reports.
Chadwick cited 70 incidents of “serious incidents of violence” on Sunday, including 40 lootings of supermarkets and other businesses.
“We are facing a real escalation that is undoubtedly organized to cause serious damage to our country and the lives of each of its citizens,” the minster was quoted as saying at a press conference in Santiago.
Santiago and other Chilean cities have been engulfed by several days of riots as protests over an increase in public transport costs prompted President Sebastian Pinera to reverse the move and declare a state of emergency.
Chadwick said seven people had been killed in incidents related to the protests.
He said the state of emergency applied in Santiago early on Saturday would be rolled out to Antofagasta, Valparaiso, Valdivia, Chillan, Talca, Temuco and Punta Arenas.
There was transport deadlock in Santiago and chaos at the international airport on Sunday, where flights into and out of Santiago were suspended or canceled as crew members and airport staff were unable to get to work, the city’s governor said.
By mid-afternoon on Sunday, prosecutors said, 1,462 people had been charged in connection with that day’s protests, 614 of them in Santiago. That followed 179 arrests in Santiago on Saturday.
The military authorities mandated by Pinera with reestablishing order in Santiago on Sunday declared another night-time curfew in the capital as the government struggled to contain violent protests, looting and arson.
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