A young woman has caused outrage after being photographed raising her arms in jubilation as an ancient church blazes around her during violent protests in Chile.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the capital as part of high-profile clashes with police ahead of a key referendum on whether to get rid of the constitution that dates back to the years of dictatorship.
The process also marked the anniversary of last year’s widespread anti-government protest measures that involved around 25,000 people demanding a new constitution.
The images of the burning church were shot in the San Francisco de Borja church, also known as Carabineros church, which was apparently targeted as it is regularly used by the Carabineros (Chilean police) for their institutional ceremonies, and which is located in Santiago de Chile, the Chilean capital which is seen most of the violence.
According to local newspaper Biobio, a group of hooded people broke into the back part of the building and started to pull out items to create burning barricades.
The woman posed with the podium on fire and shared the post on Instagram with the message “The only church that lights the way is the one that burns”.
After the picture went viral, the woman reportedly deleted her account but the picture of her with hands raised up and with the fire in the podium has dominated headlines in Chilean media.
The church of San Francisco de Borja in the Chilean capital was not the only one damaged by the rioters, and the famous church of Asuncion, one of the oldest in the capital, has also been badly damaged after being burned by protestors.
Consuelo Valdes, the minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage of Chile, said on Twitter that “outrage and sadness for the fire and destruction of Asuncion church and the attack of the church of San Francisco de Borja, both heritage facilities”.
Both churches also had items stolen and at the church of Asuncion its spire collapse as a result of the flames.
In other parts of the city shops were also looted, among them an international brand supermarket chain.
Masked people also attacked some police stations in the outskirts of Santiago de Chile.
Barricades were also burned in the surroundings of the area where the incident took place.
Other violent incidents and police confrontations happened too in other parts of Chile, such as Antofagasta.
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