Fourth death as protests grow in Chile

Demonstrators torch a shop in Santiago in protest at the death of a football fan who was hit by a police van (AFP Photo/CLAUDIO REYES)
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Santiago (AFP) - A man died of carbon monoxide poisoning after a supermarket was torched in Chile's capital Friday, and another succumbed to injuries sustained in clashes with police, bringing the death toll in a new wave of unrest to four.

Protests that flared up in October -- initially over a rise in metro fares -- had appeared to have calmed down during the summer holidays in Chile.

But there has been a spike in violent protests this week.

A mob looted and then set fire to the supermarket in southern Santiago in the early hours of Friday.

When firefighters arrived they found a dead man aged 30 to 40 and two other people suffering from signs of asphyxiation.

He died from "asphyxiation by inhaling carbon monoxide," police chief Carolina Nunez told local media.

Another man died Friday, two days after being shot in the head during a protest near a police station in southern Santiago.

On Wednesday a young man died after being hit by a hijacked bus and a football fan was killed on Tuesday after he was hit by a police van.

Another supermarket in the capital was looted overnight while police arrested 16 people.

Burning barricades could be seen in several roads in Santiago on Friday morning.

More than 30 people have died in protests that began initially as a reaction to a modest hike in metro fares in the capital.

They quickly mushroomed into wider discontent at inequality and the rejection of billionaire President Sebastian Pinera and his government.

Pinera has launched a raft of measures to try to quell the unrest, including a rise in the minimum wage and state pensions, and health reforms.

He will also hold a referendum in April on changing the dictatorship-era constitution.