SANTIAGO – Seven police officers were injured and 49 protesters arrested during disturbances coinciding with the 43rd anniversary of the coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Chilean authorities said on Monday.
The violence was “less intense” than last year, Deputy Interior Minister Mahmud Aleuym said, telling Tele13 radio that the number of incidents declined from 345 on Sept. 11, 2015, to 140 on Sunday.
Arrests also fell by more than half, from 104 to 49, while the number of injured police climbed from five to seven, the official said.
Hooded militants confronted cops and members of the media during a march Sunday afternoon in honor of victims of Pinochet’s 1973-1990 regime, but the serious disturbances did not begin until after dark.
Police Cpl. Jose Eugenio Campusano Pino was shot in the pelvic area in a clash with protesters in the Santiago neighborhood of San Joaquin, where another officer suffered a contusion from the impact of a bullet against his bullet-proof vest.
Campusano remains hospitalized in serious condition, though his injuries are not life-threatening, authorities said.
The commander of the police, Gen. Bruno Villalobos, and Interior Minister Mario Fernandez went to the hospital in the early hours of Monday to visit Campusano.
In comments to reporters as he left the hospital, Fernandez said that besides the injured police, an unspecified number of civilians were hurt, and that more than a dozen vehicles were set on fire.
“There was use of firearms last night – Cpl. Campusano has a bullet wound, I can’t deny that – but in smaller quantity, there has been a decline in the use of firearms in this type of situations,” the minister said.
People across Chile honored President Salvador Allende on Sunday’s anniversary of the Pinochet-led putsch.
The main ceremony was held at the La Moneda presidential palace, which was bombed by warplanes during the September 1973 coup.
Allende took his own life as troops stormed the palace.
“Forty-three years have passed since the flame of democracy was momentarily extinguished in this very palace, imposing a dictatorship, state terrorism and arbitrariness in the heart of our fatherland,” President Michelle Bachelet said.
Bachelet, the daughter of an air force general who died for his opposition to Pinochet, was among the more than 27,000 people detained and tortured during the 1973-1990 dictatorship, which is blamed for upwards of 3,000 deaths.