UK & World News

  • 10 December 2013, 19:41

Argentina: Seven Killed As Looting Spreads

Seven people have been killed in northern Argentina amid widespread looting sparked by a police strike over pay.

Four people, including a police officer, have been reported dead in the province of Chaco, with three other fatalities in the provinces of Jujuy and Tucuman.

This leaves the number of dead from the violence at nine.

Riots and looting first erupted last week in the northern city of Cordoba when police went on strike to demand better wages and working conditions.

The strikes have since spread to about 10 provinces. With fewer police on the streets, violence has erupted in at least 19 of Argentina's 23 provinces.

Shop-frontshave been smashed and mobs have been seen carrying off stolen goods in their arms and shopping trolleys.

President Cristina Fernandez's cabinet chief, Jorge Capitanich, described the crimes as premeditated acts by groups that wanted to create chaos ahead of the30th anniversary of Argentina's return to democracy.

"We are dismayed by events of this nature that aim to worry the people of the provinces of Argentina due to deliberate and planned actions by groups looking to create chaos and anxiety," he said.

Provincial police forces are working to stop the looting, without the assistance of the 60,000-strong federal police. Hundreds of people have been injured and dozens more arrested.

The three civilians killed in Chaco had taken part in looting in the provincial capital Resistencia, an official said. The police officer died from injuries sustained while he was protecting a supermarket.

In Jujuy, the fatalities occurred in the towns of San Pedro and Perico. In Tucuman province, a man reportedly died of a gunshot wound and 35 people were treated at the hospital.

Most of the victims had minor injuries, but some had suffered more serious gunshot wounds.

Governors in Cordoba, Neuquen, San Juan, Catamarca and Rio Negro provinces have tried to defuse police protests by doubling and tripling police salaries.

Looting has occurred repeatedly in Argentina since the late 1980s. Inflation in the country is currently running at a rate of 30% a year, according to analysts.

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