Chilean couple dies defending home [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SANTIAGO, Chile - An elderly couple whose family's vast landholdings long have been targeted by Mapuche Indians in southern Chile were killed in an arson attack early Friday while trying to defend their home. The president quickly flew to the scene and announced new security measures, including the application of Chile's tough anti-terrorism law and the creation of a special police anti-terror unit backed by Chile's military.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, which some
Mapuche Indians repudiated Friday as senseless and abhorrent. But Chile's interior minister said pamphlets condemning police violence and demanding the return of Mapuche lands were left at the scene. The presidentially appointed governor of the remote southern region of Araucania,
Andres Molina, called the
"This attack affects the entire country and causes gigantic damage, for the pain and the delays that it means for thousands of families who want to live in peace," Pinera said. "This government is united in its effort to combat terrorism that affects the region. We will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law."
"It should be completely clear," Pinera added, "that this fight is not against the Mapuche people. It's with a minority of violent terrorists who must be fought with everything the law allows."
Werner Luchsinger, 75, fired a weapon in self-defense and struck a man from the nearby Mapuche community of Juan Quintrupil before his home burned to the ground, regional Police Chief Ivan Bezmalinovic said.
A suspect in the arson, Celestino Cordova Transito, 26, was detained near the scene early Friday. Police have him under arrest in a hospital in Temuco, where he was being treated for a gunshot wound in the neck, the chief said.
Luchsinger's wife, Vivian McKay,
called relatives for help during the attack. But when they arrived just 15 minutes later, the house was already in flames, and she didn't answer her phone, according to the victim's cousin Jorge
The attack began Thursday night as one of many political protests around Chile commemorating the death five years ago of Mapuche activist Matias Catrileo, who was shot in the back by an officer who served a minor sentence and then rejoined the police. The
Indians scattered pamphlets related to the anniversary while on the
Luchsinger property, Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said.
The victims' Lumahue ranch is just 16 miles from the spot where Catrileo was killed Jan. 3, 2008.
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