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Santiago, Jun 26 (EFE).- Thousands of people turned out Wednesday on another day of demonstrations called by students in several Chilean cities, with union members, port workers and miners joining the throng.
Several clashes between police and masked protesters were reported and the Carabineros - Chile's militarized police - said that 98 people were arrested and four officers were injured in various ways, although no mention was made of any civilian casualties.
The governor of the Santiago metropolitan area, Juan Antonio Peribonio, said at a press conference that the government had filed criminal complaints against the people responsible for the attacks on law enforcement personnel.
"We have almost 100 people under arrest, many of them ... for carrying incendiary devices," he said.
Police used tear gas and water cannons to disrupt the protests.
Peribonio said that the damage resulting from the rioting amounted to millions of dollars in both the public and private sectors, noting that "bus stops, traffic lights, commercial establishments, among others" had been damaged.
Two weeks after the most recent demonstration, Santiago was the scene of the largest protest with three simultaneous marches in different parts of the capital that converged in Heroes Square, just a few blocks from the La Moneda presidential palace.
Groups of masked protesters set up barricades and clashed with police starting early Wednesday morning, a situation that continued until the end of the demonstration in the capital and in other cities like Valparaiso and Concepcion.
University and high school students have been mobilized since 2011 to demand free and high-quality public education, along with the elimination of the profit motive at private universities.
In contrast to other protests, however, on Wednesday the student movement received the support of the CUT union, the professors union, the Federation of Port Workers and the CTC copper union, among other labor organizations.
The CTC, which is the union representing workers at the state-run Codelco copper mining company, said in a statement that groups of miners blocked access to the Chuquicamata, El Teniente and Andina mines, Codelco's main facilities, adding that several incidents with police occurred.
Codelco, however, which is the world's primary copper producer, said via its Twitter account that all its divisions were operating "normally" and that only the El Teniente mine was experiencing "access difficulties."
The port unions, meanwhile, said that 90 percent of the country's ports were paralyzed, including those at Iquique and Antofagasta, in the north, and San Antonio and Coronel, in the south.