50 Anniversary of Pinochet's Coup
Some 5,000 people marched in Santiago to commemorate the victims of the coup d'etat 50 years ago that brought dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. AFP

Chileans marching to commemorate the victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, 50 years after the coup d'etat that brought him to power, clashed with police Sunday and committed acts of arson in Santiago.

The march through the streets of the capital to the general cemetery that houses a memorial to the victims of Pinochet's brutal regime, stopped briefly at the presidential palace, La Moneda, where then-president Salvador Allende was overthrown on September 11, 1973.

Leftist President Gabriel Boric joined the procession of some 5,000 people, according to the government -- becoming the first leader of Chile since the end of the dictatorship in 1990 to do so.

But a small group of men in hoodies threw stones at the presidential palace and the police guarding it, breaking through security barriers and damaging part of the access to a cultural center in the building's basements.

There were also clashes with police at other points during the march, with some marchers hurling molotov cocktails and setting up burning barricades.

Inside the cemetery, some mausoleums were damaged, including the tomb of a right-wing senator killed in 1991.

"Those responsible for this violence are adversaries of the government," said Manuel Monsalve, Deputy Interior Secretary, adding three police officers had been injured.

Three people were arrested.

50 Anniversary of Pinochet's Coup
Three people were arrested during a march in Santiago to commemorate the victims of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship 50 years after the coup that brought him to power. AFP

The bulk of the participants, bearing Chilean flags and chanting slogans such as "Truth and justice now!" or "Allende lives," marched peacefully.

"September 11 is a date that fills us with memories, but also gives us some anguish, because instead of advancing we have regressed," 76-year-old Patricia Garzon, a former political prisoner, told AFP along the route.

"With this march we remember that 1973 broke democracy in Chile, and now we continue fighting to maintain and strengthen it," added Luis Pontigo, 72, a retired teacher.

In the morning, Boric inaugurated an exhibition dedicated to Allende's memory at La Moneda, in the presence of the deceased Marxist leader's family members.

More than 3,200 people were killed or "disappeared" -- abducted and presumed killed -- by Pinochet's security forces, and about 38,000 were tortured.

The general died of a heart attack on December 10, 2006 aged 91, without ever stepping foot in a court.

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