Four dead in a week in new wave of Chile anti-government protests

Protests that flared up in October, initially over metro fares, mushroom into wider discontent, killing at least 27.

    This week saw a spike in violent protests, which have killed at least 27 people since October [Reuters]
    This week saw a spike in violent protests, which have killed at least 27 people since October [Reuters]

    A man has died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a supermarket was torched in Chile's capital on Friday and another succumbed to injuries sustained in clashes with police, bringing the death toll in a new wave of unrest to four.

    Protests that flared up in October, initially over a rise in metro fares, had appeared to have calmed down over the summer holidays in Chile. But there has been a spike in violent protests this week.

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    A mob looted and then set fire to the supermarket in southern Santiago in the early hours of Friday.

    When firefighters arrived they found a dead man, aged 30-40, and two other people suffering from signs of asphyxiation.

    He died from "asphyxiation by inhaling carbon monoxide," police chief Carolina Nunez told local media.

    Another man died on the same day, two days after being shot in the head during a protest near a police station in southern Santiago. 

    Looting and death

    On Wednesday, a young man died after being hit by a hijacked bus and a football fan was killed on Tuesday after he was hit by a police van.

    Police deployed a water cannon truck as they attempted to disperse demonstrators on the streets of Santiago.

    Another supermarket in the capital was looted overnight while police arrested 16 people as burning barricades could be seen on several roads in Santiago on Friday morning.

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    At least 27 people have died in protests that began initially as a reaction to a modest hike in metro fares in the capital.

    They quickly mushroomed into wider discontent at inequality and the rejection of billionaire President Sebastian Pinera and his government.

    Chileans have called for reforms to healthcare, education, the pension system and the constitution, which dates back to 1980, and the military dictatorship.

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

    He is expected to hold a referendum in April on changing the country's constitution.

    SOURCE: News agencies