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Church burned to ground in Mapuche conflict zone in Chile

July 26, 2017 GMT

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Authorities in Chile say an evangelical church has been burned to the ground in a southern region that the Mapuche indigenous group claims as its ancestral territory.

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

The local prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that the radical Mapuche group “Weichan Auka Mapu” took responsibility for the attack. No other details were available.

The group has 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.