Santiago, Chile, Jan 6, 2020 / 18:50 pm
A mob of masked protesters set fire Jan. 3 to a Catholic church dedicated to serving the national police in Santiago, Chile, while an anti-government demonstration was in progress in nearby Plaza Italia.
According to local reports, a group of masked individuals surrounded Saint Francis Borgia Church, located two blocks away from the plaza, around 8 p.m., setting fire to a vehicle parked outside and then starting fires inside the church and an attached building.
Three companies of firemen arrived at the scene, but the masked mob blocked their passage and they were unable to put out the fire in a timely manner, according to reports.
The church was built in 1876 and was originally the Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel of Saint Borgia Hospital. In November 1975, it was set aside to serve the spiritual needs of the Carabineros, the national police force.
The church is situated in the same area of Santiago where Assumption and Veracruz (True Cross) churches were also set on fire last November.
The Carabineros tweeted “we deeply regret to report that Saint Francis Borgia church where we have said farewell to our more than one thousand martyrs has been set on fire by a mob of vandals.”
Anti-government demonstrations broke out in mid-October in Santiago over a now-suspended increase in subway fares. Other regions joined in the protests, expanding their grievances to inequality and the cost of healthcare.
A number of churches across Chile have been attacked and looted amid the demonstrations in the country.