A 22-year-old indigenous man Rafael Nahuel died of bullet wounds on Saturday in the wake of a “clash” between the Police and a group of Mapuches near the southern city of Bariloche, the judge investigating the case reported Sunday.
Police clashed with a group of Mapuche during an operation to clear lands seized by members of the indigenous community. Two other Mapuches were injured and 10 remain hidden in the mountains near Villa Mascardi.
The Security Ministry said in a statement that the incident happened Saturday and stemmed from a police operation that began Thursday in southern Argentina to evict Mapuche activists from properties they had taken over. It said the clash came after some Mapuche fled into the mountains following their eviction from national park land near the Patagonia city of Bariloche.
The statement said four police officers searching in the area were attacked by 15 to 20 hooded people armed with spears, guns and stones. It said the officers fired some shots into the trees. Later, two Mapuche came down from the hill carrying a man who had been wounded but died on the way down, the statement said.
The Mapuche community of Lof Lafken Winkul Mapu said a 22-year-old Mapuche had been killed. They identified him as Rafael Nahuel. A hospital said he died of a gunshot wound.
Human rights groups and leftist movements marched on Plaza de Mayo on Sunday evening to decry the alleged abuses by the Security Forces.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line members Nora Cortiñas and Mirta Baravalle led the march, which renewed calls for Security Minister Patricia Bullrich’s resignation.
Nahuel’s death is likely to spark a fresh wave of protests in a long-running standoff between human rights leaders and the national government over its handling of security and police forces, particularly after the disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado in August.
On Sunday, Vice-president Gabriela Michetti said on the television programme La Cornisa that the government has given the police officers "the benefit of the doubt".