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Confrontation of Mapuche Protesters and Local Residents in Chile Turn Violent

An anti-government protester, holding a Mapuche flag, is brought down by the jet spray of a police water cannon, in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 31, 2019.

In southern Chile a confrontation between Mapuche indigenous protesters and residents turned violent Sunday.

Several government buildings in the Araucanía region were damaged as the violence erupted.

Local media reported that residents tried to force the Mapuche protesters out of the municipality buildings, before burning and overturning vehicles belonging to them.

Chilean police intervened to evict the protesters and prevent other violent acts.

Interior Undersecretary Juan Galli said that authorities arrested 48 people during such "absolutely condemnable" unrest.

The Mapuche protesters had occupied local government buildings for several days in a show of support for one of their leaders, Celestino Córdova, who is on a hunger strike in prison, and other Mapuche individuals whom they consider political prisoners.

The native Mapuche population, most of whom live in poverty, have been in conflict with authorities since the Spanish conquistadors forced them into Araucanía in the late 19th century after some 300 years of conflict.