Police and demonstrators fight running battles
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Police fought running battles with demonstrators for several hours Tuesday at the beginning of a two-day protest against 12 years of military rule. Four people were reported wounded by gunfire and more than 100 arrested.
News reports and Roman Catholic Church sources said other people were injured, some by buckshot from police shotguns, but no figures were available.
Police said two men, a boy and a teen-age girl were shot in confusing circumstances in separate incidents in suburban working class districts. The report said the assailants were not known.
Police reported that more than 100 people were arrested in the demonstrations , which lasted well into the night.
At 10:22 p.m., the capital city of 5 million people was blacked out, as well as the area 55 miles around it.
The state electric company said it was caused by a bomb that destroyed a major power station tower south of Santiago. A man who said he was a member of a leftist guerrilla group, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, said in a telephone call to the AP that his organization had planted the bomb. He did not identify himself and there was no way to authenticate the call.
Power was gradually being restored.
Soldiers patrolled many parts of the city and guarded power plants, communications centers and bridges.
Fifteen bombs exploded Monday night in Santiago and the port city of Valparaiso, 83 miles to the west, wounding four people, police reports said.
Police used tear gas and water cannons to scatter demonstrations. Some shops closed as people abandoned the downtown area.
The protest was organized by political parties and other groups opposed to Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who came to power after a coup in September 1973 against the elected government of President Salvador Allende, a Marxist.
It did not appear to attract great public support and failed to disrupt Santiago’s normal routine for most of the day. Shops, offices and banks remained open.
Public transportation services were reduced because many drivers were afraid to continue on their routes when demonstrators began throwing rocks at vehicles. Protesters threw bent nails in the streets and many buses were idled with flat tires.
Six buses were destroyed by firebombs during the night and one driver was seriously wounded, police said. In Valparaiso, a taxi driver suffered burns when two men threw a fire bomb into his vehicle.
Police said one of the three men wounded by gunfire, Fernando Urrejola, 17, was hit in the stomach and in serious conditions at a hospital. He was shot near an intersection where demonstrators manned a barricade to stop traffic, they said.
The other three - a 14-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man whose names were not given - were hit in the legs, apparently by stray bullets, according to the police reports.
Among those injured were an elderly Santiago woman and her granddaughter who were passing a power plant when a bomb exploded, police said.
Protesters in several of the slums that ring the city erected barricades with burning tires and other debris. In at least one instance, soldiers fired their weapons into the air to scatter a group tryuing to block a street, according to reports from witnesses.
Police and students fought at three university campuses, and reports from the School of Medicine said one student was hit in the head by a tear gas grenade.
Protests also occurred in Concepcion, 350 miles south of Santiago, and in Antofagasta, 920 miles to the north, police said. A radio station in Antofagasta said several demonstrators were injured by shotgun fire from police.
Another purpose of the protest was to demand the release of six dissident labor and community leaders who have been in jail for 40 days, charged with organizing an anti-government demonstration on Sept. 4. They began a hunger strike Friday to protest their detention.
One of the six is Rodolfo Seguel, a popular labor leader who organized the first large protests against Pinochet’s regime in 1983.