SANTIAGO, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Marches and commemorations in Chile marking the 40th anniversary of a military coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power were marred by violent clashes, which led to 264 arrests and about 50 injured, including 42 policemen, officials said Thursday.
The clashes broke out in the suburbs of the capital late Wednesday, following a series of official and civic events paying homage to the victims of the 17-year military dictatorship that followed the coup.
President Sebastian Pinera addressed the clashes after visiting a hospital with injured policemen, saying "there is no justification whatsoever for last night's violence."
Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said three buses belonging to Santiago's public transportation system were burnt, along with seven privately-owned vehicles and two minibuses.
Sixteen stores were damaged by attempted looting, some public and private property was destroyed, he said, adding that there were blackouts in part of the capital city.
Officials have counted 42 injured policemen, eight had to be hospitalized from gunshots or some kind of acid, he said, adding that a police officer was in serious condition after being hit with a Molotov cocktail that failed to explode.
"The violence was stronger. The use of weapons might be the most intense we've ever had," Chadwick said.
The military regime of Pinochet, who overthrew the socialist government of President Salvador Allende (1970-1973), has caused deep divisions in Chilean society, still persistent in the South American country today.
On Wednesday, Pinera called for national reconciliation at a religious ceremony in the capital to commemorate the Sept. 11, 1973 violent coup and its bloody aftermath.
"We do not have the right, as a generation, to pass on to our children and grandchildren the same hate and the same quarrels that divided us and caused us so much pain," he said.
By the end of Pinochet's regime in 1990, 200,000 Chileans were driven into exile, 40,000 were tortured by the security apparatus, and more than 3,000 were executed or remain unaccounted for in the country which today has 17 million people.