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Protests around the world: violent clashes hit Chile, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Barcelona

• The National

Protests have broken out in several countries across the world, with citizens unhappy for different reasons. Some are protesting over economic conditions, others are protesting over tax hikes and elsewhere protests are breaking out over controversial laws or prison sentences imposed by governments.

Here's the latest in each of the country's affected by violent clashes and unrest.

Protests around the world: violent clashes hit Chile, Hong Kong, Lebanon and Barcelona

Here's the latest in each of the country's affected by unrest

Riot police fire tear gas to disperse demonstrators during a protest targeting the government over an economic crisis, near the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon October 18, 2019. Reuters

Protests have broken out in several countries across the world, with citizens unhappy for different reasons. Some are protesting over economic conditions, others are protesting over tax hikes and elsewhere protests are breaking out over controversial laws or prison sentences imposed by governments.

Here's the latest in each of the country's affected by violent clashes and unrest.

Chile

Chile's president declared a state of emergency in Santiago on Friday night and gave the military responsibility for security after a day of violent protests over increases in the price of metro tickets.

"I have declared a state of emergency and, to that end, I have appointed Major General Javier Iturriaga del Campo as head of national defense, in accordance with the provisions of our state of emergency legislation," President Sebastian Pinera said.

Throughout Friday, protesters clashed with riot police in several parts of the city and the subway system was shut after attacks on several stations.

A woman shouts in front of a police truck near the Santa Lucia subway station during a protest against the rising cost of subway and bus fares, in Santiago, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

A woman shouts in front of a police truck near the Santa Lucia subway station during a protest against the rising cost of subway and bus fares, in Santiago. AP Photo

Violent clashes escalated as night fell, and the ENEL power company building and a Banco Chile branch, both in the city center, were set on fire and several metro stations hit with Molotov cocktails.

The unrest started as a fare-dodging protest against the hike in metro ticket prices, which increased from 800 to 830 peso ($1.17) for peak hour travel, following a 20 peso rise in January.

Attacks on metro stations forced the closure of the entire subway system, which is the key form of public transport in the congested and polluted capital, carrying three million passengers a day.

"The entire network is closed due to riots and destruction that prevent the minimum security conditions for passengers and workers," the metro operator said on Twitter, after attacks against nearly all the 164 stations where many gates and turnstiles were destroyed.

The Santiago Metro, at 140 kilometres (90 miles) the largest and most modern in South America, is expected to remain closed this weekend and could reopen gradually next week.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam took to the airwaves on Saturday to back the use of force by police ahead of a major anti-government march planned this weekend in the Chinese-ruled city, which has been battered by months of violent protests.

Following a week of relative calm, Sunday's march will test the strength of the pro-democracy movement. Campaigners vowed it would go ahead despite police ruling the rally illegal.

In the past, thousands of people have defied police and staged mass rallies without permission, often peaceful at the start but becoming violent at night.

The trigger for unrest in Hong Kong had been a now-withdrawn proposal to allow extradition to mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Macau. The case of a Hong Kong man accused of murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan before fleeing back to the city was held up as an example of why it was needed.

Late on Friday the man, Chan Tong-kai, who is jailed in Hong Kong for money laundering, wrote to Lam saying he would "surrender himself to Taiwan" over his alleged involvement in the case upon his release, which could be as soon as next week.

Ms Lam said in an interview on Saturday with broadcaster RTHK that it was a relief as it could bring an end to the case.

She also said that police had used appropriate force in handling the protests, and were responding to protesters' violence, amid criticism of heavy-handed tactics.

More than 2,600 people have been arrested since the protests escalated in June.

Protesters' demands have, since then, swelled far beyond opposing the extradition bill, to take in broader concerns that Beijing is eroding freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

China denies the accusation and has blamed foreign nations such as the United States and Britain for inciting the unrest.

The crisis in the Chinese-ruled city is the worst since the handover and poses the biggest popular challenge to China's President Xi Jinping since he took power.

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