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Violence mars Chilean student protests

Police have clashed with student protesters demanding education reform and an end to police brutality. This follows a years-long struggle to overhaul an unequal system carried over from former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Chilean police clashed with student protesters late Thursday night in the capital of Santiago.

The officers fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse the students, who were protesting university education reform and police brutality.

The protests turned violent after student demonstrators set fire to rubber tires and debris to block traffic in the capital's main street, Alameda. The students also threw rocks at security forces while demanding an end to "police repression."

Last week, a 28-year-old university student was injured in the city of Valparaiso after hitting his head against the pavement when police fired a water cannon at him.

Police also evacuated elderly people from the area where protests were taking place after a church was set ablaze by students throwing Molotov cocktails.

Chile's Interior Minister Jorge Burgos said the demonstrations had been sabotaged by "delinquents."

Education reform

The student movement is demanding an overhaul of an unequal educational system carried over from the country's late dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a reform bill in January that provides free university education for 60 percent of the poorest students beginning in 2016.

However, the student movement represented by the Students Confederation of Chile (Confech), who have been protesting since 2011, have said the reforms do not go far enough.

Bachelet's second term has been marred by numerous corruption scandals, including one that involves her son.

ls/es (EFE, AFP, dpa)

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