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  • Mapuche activists are detained as they clash during a protest to demand justice for Indigenous Mapuche inmates, in Santiago, Chile September 26, 2017.

    Mapuche activists are detained as they clash during a protest to demand justice for Indigenous Mapuche inmates, in Santiago, Chile September 26, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

The protest was called in support of Mapuche prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for 113 days.

Over 2,000 demonstrators protested Chile's capital Santiago to support four Mapuche Indigenous community members who have been on hunger strike for 113 days.

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Chanting the main motto "for the dignity of the Mapuche people," the demonstrators marched on major Santiago thoroughfares, lit fires in the street and blocked traffic for evening commuters, but also in other cities of the country.

Police used water cannon to break up the demonstrators who local media said numbered more than 2,000.

Chile's largest native ethnic group, the Mapuche, who live mainly in the Temuco area of southern Chile, have been in a struggle with the government as they try to regain land lost during Chile's 19th-century expansion southward into the Mapuche-held territory.

The hunger-striking members of the Mapuche community are accused of arson attacks in southern Chile. The sentence applied a controversial anti-terrorism bill passed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

The prisoners have lost between 15 and 22 kilograms, according to a medical expert sent to the prison on Thursday, presenting symptoms including a deterioration of cognitive functions.

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