Left: A supporter of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet kicks a window in front of Chile's Military college, where the body of Pinochet lies in state, in Santiago yesterday. Hundreds of Chileans viewed Pinochet's body yesterday, a day after the former dictator, whose 17-year rule polarised the country, died at the age of 91. Right: A Chilean army officer helps a supporter of former dictator Augusto Pinochet stand up from his wheelchair to view Pinochet's body, lying in state at the Military College in Santiago, yesterday. - Retuers photos
SANTIAGO, Chile, (Reuters):
The body of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose government killed thousands during his 17-year-rule, was taken to a military college in the capital Santiago yesterday after his death sparked violence, tears and celebration.
Pinochet, who polarised Chile during his 1973-1990 dictatorship and spent his old age fighting human rights, fraud and corruption charges, died on Sunday.
He suffered a heart attack a week ago and, just when he appeared to be recovering, his health suddenly deteriorated, doctors said.
News of his death prompted an outpouring of emotion in Chile where, a third of a century after he swept to power, Pinochet's legacy is still hotly disputed.
More than 5,000 people took to the streets, the Interior Ministry said. Some mourned a man who they say saved Chile from communism, while others revelled in the death of South America's most notorious Cold War dictator.
Some demonstrations turned violent, and military police used tear gas to disperse anti-Pinochet protesters who tried to march to the presidential palace, a potent symbol for many Chileans since it was bombed during the 1973 coup which brought the general to power.
24 officers injured
After the protests ended on Sunday, police said 24 officers were injured, and the interior ministry said several protesters were arrested. Bonfires burned on the capital streets, some of which were littered with rocks, barricades and debris.
"I would like to issue a call tonight for families to take responsibility for their youths, for their children, so that they don't go out to demonstrate, and don't get involved in acts of violence," said Interior Ministry under-secretary Felipe Harboe in a statement.
At around 1:00 a.m. (0400 GMT), Pinochet's body was driven from the hospital where he died to the military college in preparation for his funeral today.