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November 12, 2019
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Chile extends state of emergency amid violent protests

SANTIAGO, Chile: Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has said the government will extend a state of emergency to cities in the north and the south part of the country.

After at least seven people were killed on Sunday during violent clashes and arson attacks.

“We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits,” Pinera said in a late-night televised statement at army headquarters in Santiago.

He confirmed the state of emergency he declared for Santiago on Saturday night, which brought the military onto the streets, would be extended to the north and south of the capital.

Protests led by students began two weeks ago over fare hikes on public transport.

Pinera said Santiago’s metro and bus system would operate a partial service on Monday, along with hospitals and some schools and crèches, and appealed for Chileans to band together and help their neighbours to get on with their lives and remain safe.

“Tomorrow we will have a difficult day,” he said. “We are very aware that (the perpetrators of riots) have a degree of organisation, logistics, typical of a criminal organization,” he said.

“Today is not the time for ambiguities. I call on all my compatriots to unite in this battle against violence and delinquency,” he said.

Interior Minister Andres Chadwick told news conference in Santiago earlier on Sunday night that the decision to extend the emergency measure came amid an “escalation of violence and vandalism.”

He cited 70 “serious incidents of violence” on Sunday, including the looting of 40 supermarkets and other businesses.

Santiago and other Chilean cities have been engulfed by several days of riots, along with peaceful protests, after the increase in public transport costs. The violence prompted 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 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 the capital were suspended or cancelled because crew members and airport staff were unable to get to work, the city’s governor said.

Prosecutors said 1,462 people had been charged by mid-afternoon on Sunday in connection with that day’s protests, 614 of them in Santiago.

Several large demonstrations continued past the mandated curfew hour, witnesses and Chilean media reported.