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Two killed in supermarkets looting in Argentina

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 21 Dec 2012 16:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Violence erupts in Patagonian resort, spreads elsewhere

* Government condemns unrest and deploys military police

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 21 (Reuters) - At least two people were killed in Argentina as looters broke into supermarkets in several cities, stirring memories of the country's devastating economic crisis 11 years ago.

The violence erupted on Thursday in the Patagonian ski resort of Bariloche when dozens of looters stormed a supermarket and made off with LCD televisions and other goods.

Government officials condemned the violence and deployed 400 military police to the southern city. Similar unrest broke out in the central city of Rosario and in several parts of the urban sprawl that surrounds the capital Buenos Aires early on Friday.

"These are isolated incidents and in none of them have we seen people stealing food. They've been taking televisions," said Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina, blaming the unrest on opposition trade union groups.

Two people were killed during looting in Rosario, said provincial security secretary Matias Drivet. Several hundred people were arrested nationwide.

The unrest is more bad news for President Cristina Fernandez, who often contrasts the country's current economic stability with the 2001/02 crisis that plunged millions of Argentines into poverty and unleashed a wave of looting for food in supermarkets.

Fernandez was re-elected by a landslide just over a year ago, but her approval ratings have since plunged due to sluggish economic growth, high inflation and middle-class anger over currency controls, and the leader's combative style. (Reporting by Alejandro Lifschitz and Helen Popper; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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