Three people have died in a fire inside a Santiago supermarket that was ransacked as violent clashes between protesters and security forces continued, said the mayor of the Chilean capital.
“Two people burned to death and the third was taken to hospital in poor condition but later died,” Karla Rubilar told reporters.
Soldiers patrolled the streets in Chile’s capital on Saturday for the first time since the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet ended in 1990, to keep order following violent protests over subway fares.
The military presence was part of a state of emergency declared by President Sebastian Pinera in response to student-led protests on Friday that paralysed the city.
The Chilean government has now suspended the rise in fares in the aftermath of the protests.
I have listened with humility to the voice of my compatriots,” said Pinera on Saturday evening, announcing the backdown.
He also appealed to people taking to the streets, saying “there are good reasons to do so” but calling on them “to demonstrate peacefully” and saying “nobody has the right to act with brutal criminal violence”.
Protesters burned several subway stations and damaged dozens of others, and some set fire to an energy company building. Officials reported 156 police officers and 11 civilians injured and more than 300 people arrested.
The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest against an increase in metro ticket prices, which increased from 800 pesos to 830 pesos ($1.13 to $1.17) for peak-time travel, following a 20-peso rise in January.
The government recently raised subway fares from about $1.12 to $1.16 due to rising fuel prices.
The head of the subway system, Louis De Grange, said the vandalism caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and said it was not clear when service could resume. As a result, some 2.4 million people are likely to experience difficulties getting to work or school on Monday.