At least three people were killed and 98 detained on Friday after huge protests called by social movements in several cities around Colombia to express their rejection of the social and economic policies of President Ivan Duque.
Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo provided details in his report on the protests that turned violent by nightfall and caused losses in Bogota worth more than 20 billion pesos (some $5.8 million).
“While most of the day the demonstrations went off without problems, in certain cases the violent elements caused serious damage. In the last few hours authorities confirmed the death of two people in Buenaventura amid the disturbances,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday, thousands of protesting Colombians crowded the streets of Bogota, Cali, Medellin and other big cities until well into the night, when a sudden clanging of pots and pans resounded in most districts of the capital and spread to other towns.
The defense minister said that close to 253,000 people took part in “622 activities from marches to rallies to other kinds of movements” in 350 municipalities of 31 Colombian provinces.
After the protests, vandals confronted police in the downtown Plaza Bolivar and attacked the Capitol, the Palace of Justice and the Lievano Palace, the seat of the Mayor’s Office, with stones, paint and Molotov cocktails.
Similarly, at least 68 stations of the Transmilenio public transport system were damaged with sticks, stones and graffiti. Authorities say the reparations will take two days.
In light of Thursday’s violence, Mayor Peñalosa imposed the dry law prohibiting the sale of alcohol to avoid further turmoil in the capital.
As a result, the defense minister said that police inspector opened 11 preliminary investigations in Bogota, Manizales, Cali and Cartagena into reports of “possible irregularities in the conduct of members of the police force.”
(With inputs from agency)