Chile marks anniversary of military coup

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Chile marks anniversary of military coup

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Clashes broke out in Chile early on Wednesday on the 40th anniversary of the country’s military coup.

In the capital, Santiago, riot police fired tear gas and used water cannon to control the protesters.

The anniversary of the coming to power of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1973 is often marked by violence.

Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said “in order to reconcile the country there has to be an advancement towards the truth and there must be justice.” He added without that “any reconciliation” would not be possible.

Supporters of democratically elected President Salvador Allende along with family members of palace guards killed on the day of the coup laid wreaths at the presidential palace in Santiago.

Allende allegedly committed suicide instead of surrendering to the then head of the army, Pinochet. His death marked the start of a brutal 17 year dictatorship.

Isabel Allende, daughter of the former president and now a senator in Chile, was joined by representatives of human rights, political, social and union organisations at the statue of her father in Santiago’s Constitution Square.

The former president’s driver and bodyguard, Jorge Rabanal, who attended the commemorations said that “forgiveness can’t be given unless the bodies of his comrades are found.”

An estimated 1,200 people disappeared without trace during Pinochet’s rule.

The Chilean government estimates that 3,095 people were killed during the dictatorship.