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Argentines rally over protesters' deaths

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, a day after two protesters were killed in clashes with police.
Argentines rally over protesters' deaths

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, a day after two protesters were killed in clashes with police.
Teachers and state workers also went on strike, in protest against government repression and Argentina's worsening economic crisis.

Security was tight as groups ranging from left-wing activists to professional associations marched in front of the National Congress Building, calling for President Eduardo Duhalde to resign.

Government buildings and side streets were filled with heavily armed riot police and water cannons, but the crowd was well-marshalled and under control - a good sign, say correspondents, for the government trying to find a way out of the current economic mess.

The BBC's Peter Greste in Buenos Aires said the protest by about 10,000 people - from manual workers to suited professionals to grandmothers in headscarves - was generally peaceful.

- Anger at austerity

Demonstrators told him they were angry about the killings but also about the austerity measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that they blame for Argentina's continuing economic misery.

Another BBC correspondent, Tom Gibb, said the protesters were highly organised and had often brought the capital to a standstill by blocking strategic bridges.

The crowds demanded food handouts and social programmes for Argentina's growing army of unemployed, and also campaigned for the removal of President Duhalde's government.

Wednesday's violence was the worst since December, when 27 people were killed in looting and street battles which forced the then President Fernando de la Rua to resign.

Protests have been a regular occurrence since late last year, when millions of people were plunged into poverty after the government posted the biggest sovereign debt default in history.

The peso was devalued by more than two thirds and millions of bank accounts were frozen.

The Argentine Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna is in Washington to plead with the IMF to grant a $9.5bn loan to ease the country's economic crisis.

But our correspondent said that mission was derided by the protesters who continue to pile pressure on the government.
 
 

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