Foreign Ministry issues travel advisory for Chile amid violent protests
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Foreign Ministry issues travel advisory for Chile amid violent protests

Ministry implores Israelis to be alert after Chilean president declares state of emergency over demonstrations sparked by subway fare hike

A protester kicks a tear gas canister during clashes with police in Santiago, Chile, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
A protester kicks a tear gas canister during clashes with police in Santiago, Chile, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The Foreign Ministry on Sunday issued a travel advisory for Israelis visiting Chile after a state of emergency in the South American country was declared amid violent protests.

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, facing the worst crisis of his second term as head of the South American country, announced Saturday night he was cancelling a subway fare hike imposed two weeks ago. It had led to major protests that included rioting that caused millions of dollars in damage to burned buses and vandalized subway stops, office buildings and stores.

Troops patrolled the streets and a state of emergency and curfew remained in effect for six Chilean cities, but renewed protests continued after daybreak. Security forces used tear gas and jets of water to try disperse crowds.

“The Foreign Ministry recommends to Israeli travelers in the area to be alert and attentive to orders of the security services, to stay updated by local media and to refrain from going around in places with masses of people and stay away from subway stations in the city,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The ministry also said it was likely the state of emergency could be expanded to other areas.

A protester kicks a tear gas canister during clashes with police in Santiago, Chile, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Fresh clashes broke out in Chile’s capital Santiago on Sunday, even after Piñera cancelled the subway fare hike that prompted the massive and violent demonstrations.

Police and the military fired tear gas and used water cannons against protesters.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers have been deployed while an overnight curfew was imposed on Santiago and a state of emergency called in five regions.

Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick said two women burned to death in the blaze at a store owned by US retail chain Walmart in the early hours of Sunday.

The third victim, who authorities initially had said had died in hospital, suffered burns on 75 percent of her body.

Subway cars burnt by protesters are parked at the Elisa Correa station in Santiago, Chile, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The deaths were the first in the worst unrest since Chile returned to democracy in 1990, following the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Chadwick said two people suffered gunshot wounds following a clash with police who responded to a report of looting in a town south of Santiago.

Authorities reported 103 serious incidents throughout the country with 716 people detained.

An military armored vehicle guards a gas station in Santiago, Chile, October 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

It is the first time in the post-Pinochet era that troops have been deployed in what has otherwise been one of Latin America’s most stable countries.

Protesters set fire to buses, smashed up metro stations, knocked down traffic lights, ransacked shops and clashed with riot police in Santiago and other cities.

Almost all public transport in the capital of seven million people was paralyzed on Sunday even after the curfew ended at 7:00 am, with shops shuttered and many flights in and out of Santiago’s international airport cancelled.

The violence comes just a month before some of the world’s most influential leaders, including US President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping, are due in Santiago to discuss trade at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

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