The attack on the Homicidal Brigade of the Investigations Police (PDI) – Chile’s plainclothes detective force – was apparently launched in protest of the upcoming Sept. 11, 1973 coup anniversary that ousted President Salvador Allende.
During the 10-minute attack, college-aged protestors tossed Molotov bombs, rocks and cans through the building’s windows and at police officers who tried to stop them.
Violent public outbreaks are commonplace around Sept. 11 in Chile, but protestors struck days earlier than expected this year, angered by recent clashes between police and Chile’s Mapuche population, the nation’s largest indigenous group, in Region IX (ST, Aug. 31 ).
“No more deaths will be accepted, all will be avenged,” read a banner that mobbers waved, alluding to the controversial police shooting of 24-year-old Mapuche activist Jaime Mendoza Collío, who died Aug. 12 from a bullet would to the back (ST, Aug. 25 ).
Signs bore the names of Collío and anarchist Mauricio Morales Duarte, who was killed in May when a bomb he carried in his backpack exploded.
The violence began when a woman carrying black spray paint was spotted outside the Homicidal Brigade by a security camera. Deputy Inspector Israel Andrade, 29, went to apprehend the woman but was attacked by a group of 10 college-aged people.
The group left Andrade on the ground and hid at the Unversidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano (UAHC) campus.
When police arrived, the group began lobbing Molotov cocktails into the fray. Police later found traces of 20 such bombs at the scene. The Molotov cocktails left fires in the streets around the building that were later extinguished.
After evacuating the university, police discovered supplies used to make the firebombs.
A stream of messages sent via Twitter also helped link the attacks to UAHC. “We’re leaving from the street to the Academia de Humanismo Cristiano,” one message read.
Police continue to search for participants, using photographs and names of suspects that could be linked to similar bombings in Santiago in the last few years.
Fearing copycats as the Sept. 11 coup anniversary approaches, University officials have canceled classes until Sept. 20 – after the Sept. 18 Independence Day holidays.
“We strongly denounce the violent attacks that took place Wednesday and we support the police investigation in order to find those responsible and punish them accordingly,” said University representatives, including President Claudio Gutiérrez Quintino, in a joint statement released Thursday.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet denounced the attacks Thursday, calling them “cowardly and violent” and issuing her support in the efforts to track down and punish those responsible.
“These subversive acts stemmed from very remote minority groups,” Bachelet said in a statement released Thursday morning. “Citizens reject these acts because they do not reflect the spirit of Chile, which is a country that would rather live in peace, in tranquility, and in democracy.”
Before issuing her statement, the president visited Andrade, who was hospitalized for head trauma and three lost teeth. The deputy’s injuries were “grave, but he has been steadily improving,” she said.
SOURCES: EL MERCURIO, LA TERCERA, LA NACION http://www.santiagotimes.cl/santiagotimes/index.php/2009090317070/news/political-news/chile-anarchists-attack-santiago-police-station.html