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Police disrupt student march with water cannons, arrests

SANTIAGO | Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march for free public education on Thursday, hours after protesters’ talks with the government collapsed.

A huge deployment of riot police surrounded students in the Plaza Italia, Santiago’s traditional gathering place, where student leader Camila Vallejo tried to lead the march while holding a sign saying “United and Stronger,” only to be pummeled by water cannons and forced to retreat by tear gas.

Protesters hurled rocks at police and set blockades ablaze in the streets as officers on horseback chased students onto nearby campuses. Ms. Vallejo said officers shot tear gas into their student government offices in “a direct attack against our organization.”

Students occupied the Alameda, one of Santiago’s main avenues, by dancing in large numbers, but were blasted with water from police. Small groups managed to elude officers and approach the presidential palace before being beaten back by police.

The regional governor, Cecilia Perez, said 28 people were arrested by midafternoon, and that six officers and two civilians were injured. At least a half-dozen journalists also were arrested. She called this “lamentable” and said their arrests would be investigated.

Thursday’s march was the 37th weekly protest since the movement against Chile’s largely privatized education system began in April, demanding more spending and higher taxes on the wealthy so that quality public education can be free for all.

EUROPEAN UNION

EU moving toward more Syria sanctions

BRUSSELS | The European Union is moving to widen its sanctions against Syria because of the Arab state’s brutal crackdown on protesters, officials said Thursday, adding that Syria’s largest commercial bank is a target.

The EU moves would come after the failure by the U.S. and European allies to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Syria.

Russia and China vetoed Tuesday’s measure, which would have been the first legally binding council resolution against Syria since President Bashar Assad’s forces began attacking pro-democracy protesters in mid-March.

The U.N. estimates the crackdown has led to more than 2,900 deaths. The killings already have prompted the 27-nation EU to expanded sanctions against Syria several times.

The latest sanctions will likely not be ready yet for EU foreign ministers to endorse during Monday’s monthly council meeting. But a high-ranking EU official said they should be pushed through “in the coming days.”

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