Chile: Church burned to ground in Araucanía region

SANTIAGO – An evangelical church was burned to the ground this week in southern Araucanía region that the Mapuche indigenous group claims as its ancestral territory, authorities said.

The arson attack happened late Tuesday in Vilcun, about 430 miles (700 kilometres) south of the Chilean capital. No one was injured.

According to local prosecutor’s office, the radical Mapuche group “Weichan Auka Mapu” took responsibility for the attack. No other details were available.

The group has in the past claimed other attacks in the area. It is demanding authorities free what it says are political prisoners.

The Mapuche resisted the Spanish conquest for 300 years and their desire for autonomy remains strong. A radical faction has also occupied and burned forestry farms. Chilean police have also been accused of violent abuses.