Looting, clashes as Chileans strike against Pinera

SANTIAGO,  (Reuters) – Protesters battled police in  Chile’s capital yesterday, the second day of a two-day strike  against unpopular President Sebastian Pinera that was marked by  sporadic looting but had no impact on the vital mining sector.

Youths blocked roads, threw rocks and set fire to piles of  trash at intersections in Santiago and other cities to block  traffic. Police used water cannon and tear gas to defuse the  latest rash of social unrest against conservative billionaire  Pinera’s policies.

The government said hundreds of people had been detained  since Wednesday and several police officers badly wounded —  two of them shot — as violence flared overnight when dozens of  shops and supermarkets were looted and buses damaged.

Led by students demanding free education, hundreds of  thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent months  to call for greater distribution of the income of a copper  price boom in the world’s top producer of the metal.

Organizers said around 600,000 people had joined the  protest across Chile, while Reuters reporters estimated crowds  in the capital alone at around 200,000 people. The government  gave no immediate estimate.

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