Wednesday, September 13th 2006 - 21:00 UTC

Shooting, looting and arson on Chile September 11 anniversary

A young man killed, 90 wounded and 237 arrests was Chile's final toll from protests marking the 33rd anniversary of the September 11, 1973, coup that violently ousted Socialist President Salvador Allende and marked the beginning of General Augusto Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship.

Chile's Deputy Interior Secretary Felipe Harboe said that 79 of the wounded are police officers and described the arrested rioters as "criminals" who will have to face "the full responsibility of their actions".

The dead man was identified as Mario Sandoval Mancilla, 24, who was shot from a car that fled the scene after opening fire on street-blocking protestors in southern Santiago.

The most seriously wounded is a 6-year-old girl who was hit in the head by a stray bullet inside her home in Puente Alto, 20 kilometers south of downtown Santiago.

A 17 year girl was also hit by a bullet but in her left arm while inside her house on the north side of the Chilean capital.

A police Sargent will probably lose one eye from a gunshot wound, said Carabineros General Jose Bernales after visiting his wounded men in hospital. The most violent rioting on Monday night with barricades, blackouts and attacks on the police, was concentrated in Santiago's working-class neighbourhoods.

In other areas of the capital a supermarket and other retail outlets were looted and a bank branch and police facility were destroyed, while a high school suffered extensive damage when it was set on fire.

Police officers claim that in some areas demonstrators were in possession of "heavy firepower," namely automatic weapons and some equipped with infrared scopes.

In another poor area of Santiago some 300 people looted and torched public housing units provided six months ago to local residents, who had to flee when the mob arrived.

"They are simple criminals trying to cover their vandalism with the political mantle of the September 11 commemoration", underlined Deputy Minister Harboe.

But peaceful demonstrations also took place: scores of relatives from people killed by the Pinochet regime gathered for candle-light vigils Tuesday night in two of Santiago stadiums that were used as detention and torture centres following the bloody coup.

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