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Soldiers on streets of Chilean capital after subway fare protests turn violent

Ticket prices have recently increased 4% due to higher fuel costs.

An army soldier argues with woman in the street, after a night of riots in Santiago, Chile (Esteban Felix/AP)
An army soldier argues with woman in the street, after a night of riots in Santiago, Chile (Esteban Felix/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Soldiers are patrolling the streets of Chile’s capital for the first time since the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet ended in 1990.

The military presence is part of a state of emergency declared by President Sebastian Pinera in response to student-led protests against a rise in subway fares that has paralysed Santiago.

Protesters have set several subway stations on fire and damaged dozens of others as part of their action, with officials reporting 156 police officers and 11 civilians have been injured in the violence.

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Protests began on Monday and turned violent towards the end of the week (Esteban Felix/AP)

More than 300 people have been arrested.

The streets of Santiago were relatively calm on Saturday morning, but new protests broke out at midday and police fired tear gas to break them up.

The protests by students began on Monday when hundreds of young people mobbed several subway stations, jumping over or dipping under turnstiles after a 4% increase in subway fares to about 88p – a move officials said was down to rising fuel prices.

Chile does not produce its own oil and must import its fuel, leading to high prices for petrol, electricity and elevated public transportation costs.

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Several subway stations have been set on fire by the protesters (Esteban Felix/AP)

By the end of the week, the protests had turned violent with students breaking gates, shattering glass and throwing debris on to the electrified rails.

The protests have divided Santiago residents between those who feel the action is justified and those furious at the long commuting delays.

PA

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