Demonstrators looted churches in Chile as long-running protests continue over inequality turns violent

Thousands of people had gathered near the site in Santiago’s Plaza Italia that has been used for three weeks as the main site of the mass protests.

The crowd chanted, carried banners and waved Chilean national flags as others flashed the lights on their mobile phones. 

Protestors dragged church pews, statues of Jesus and other religious iconography out through the doors of the historic building before defacing it
Protestors dragged church pews, statues of Jesus and other religious iconography out through the doors of the historic building before defacing ithttp://Zolexreporters.net

But a short time later the protests escalated as a large group of hooded protestors dressed in black began to loot a church in the area known as La Asuncion.

They were photographed dragging church pews, statues of Jesus, religious canvasses and other iconography out through the doors of the historic building before setting much of it on fire.

Smoke was also seen billowing from the nearby headquarters of Pedro de Valdivia University, although it is not known if the protestors had also ignited that blaze as authorities said they are still investigating the cause.

Many of the religious adornments that were dragged out of the church were then set on fire. Pictured: A church pew engulfed in flames in the middle of the Chilean streets
Many of the religious adornments that were dragged out of the church were then sehttp://Www.zolexreporters.nett on fire. Pictured: A church pew engulfed in flames in the middle of the Chilean streets

Many of the demonstrations over the past 22 days started out relatively peaceful but now it seems that they are becoming increasingly violent. 

Rock-throwing demonstrators clashed with riot police a short time after the church was looted as the authorities responded with tear gas and water cannons.

The unrest began last month over a subway fare hike that prompted students to start jumping turnstiles in protest which gradually escalated and spread nationwide with a broad range of demands.

The demands included improvements in education, health care and a widely criticised pension system in one of Latin America’s richest but most socially unequal countries.

Riot police responded by deploying tear gas and water cannons (pictured) to blast the crowds of protestors who attempted to defend themselves using sheets of corrugated  iron and covering their faces
Riot police responded by deploying tear gas and water cannons (pictured) to blast the crowds of protestors who attempted to defend themselves using sheets of corrugated  iron and covering their faces

A 17-year-old student, Ginette Perez, who joined the crowds who flooded the streets this week, said: ‘We still haven’t achieved anything, so we’re going to keep protesting.’ 

Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera, announced measures earlier this week to increase security and toughen sanctions for vandalism following the long-running protests that have left at least 20 dead.  

A further 2,500 people are estimated to have been injured in the protests which have also forced the cancellation of two major international summits in Santiago. 

Mr Pinera is expected to reshuffle his cabinet and announce a raise in the minimum salary.

Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, announced measures earlier this week to increase security and toughen sanctions for vandalism. Pictured: Demonstrators cover themselves from the riot police in Santiago as fires rage on the streets
Chile’s president, Sebastian Pinera, announced measures earlier this week to increase security and toughen sanctions for vandalism. Pictured: Demonstrators cover themselves from the riot police in Santiago as fires rage on the streets

Demonstrators looted churches in Chile as long-running protests continue over inequality turns violent

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