State of emergency extended in Chile

Photo: EPA Hundreds of passengers were blocked at the Santiago airport overnight on Sunday due to the curfew .

Chile´s government decided to extend a state of emergency to cities in its north and south after at least seven people died amid violent clashes and arson attacks over the weekend, news wires reported, citing the interior minister Andres Chadwick.

At a press conference in the capital Santiago on Sunday night he said 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. Minister cited 70 incidents of "serious incidents of violence" on Sunday, including 40 lootings of supermarkets and other businesses, and said military and police numbers were at 10,500 in Santiago and would be reinforced where necessary. By mid-afternoon on Sunday1,462 people had been charged in connection with that day's protests, 614 of them in Santiago. That followed 179 arrests in Santiago on Saturday.

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, without giving further details. He said the state of emergency applied in Santiago early on Saturday would be rolled out to another cities.

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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