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ARGENTINA | 15-03-2021 15:21

At least 7 arrested following attack on president's convoy in Chubut

Police have made at least seven arrests following an attack on a vehicle carrying President Alberto Fernández in Lago Puelo over the weekend.

Police in Chubut Province have made at least seven arrests in the wake of the attack on a vehicle carrying President Alberto Fernández in Lago Puelo over the weekend.

Dozens of protesters kicked and threw rocks at a minibus carrying the Frente de Todos on Saturday as he visited an area in Patagonia devastated by forest fires. 

As the Frente de Todos leader left a community centre in the town of Lago Puelo, Chubut Province, he was forced to take refuge behind a wall of people as a crowd of demonstrators pushed toward him and his delegation.

The protesters later stopped the bus carrying the president, punching and kicking it and throwing stones that broke windows in the vehicle.

Chubut’s Security Minister Federico Massoni confirmed to local media outlets Monday that six raids had taken place. According to local media, at least seven individuals – including a woman who allegedly threw a stone at the minibus – were taken into custody for questioning. 

Local news website ADN Sur reported that at least three individuals were employed by the provincial Education Ministry, while another was a worker with the Río Negro Province govenrment.

Chubut Attorney General Carlos Díaz Mayer said Monday that investigators were collating images and video footage posted on social media sites, as well as reviewing news coverage broadcast by television channels. 

Fernández made brief reference to the attack on Monday, as he attended an event in Buenos Aires Province highlighting the advance of public works projects. 

"The violent ones throw stones, we move public works. The violent ones throw stones, we bring vaccines. The violent ones throw stones, we bring love and care to the people. And no-one, no-one, no-one can move us off this path," he said.

The reason for the attempted attack remains unclear. Some outlets suggested that the demonstrators were angry over mining projects in Chubut Province, and with the provincial governor Mariano Arcioni. 

Fernández initially sought to downplay the violence on Saturday, saying it was the work of a small number of people in a post on Twitter.

"I am sure that this violence was not taken part in by the people of Chubut nor by those who inhabit our beloved Argentina," he wrote.

The violence was swiftly condemned by a host of political figures, including opposition leaders Mauricio Macri, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, Fernando Iglesias and Diego Santilli.

Fires that have blazed through Patagonia for the past week, punishing regions close to several tourist spots and claiming two lives. Towns including Lago Puelo, El Bolsón, El Maitén, Epuyén, Futaleufú, El Hoyo and Las Golondrinas, all situated at the foot of the Andes mountains, have been severely affected.

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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