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2 dead, 471 arrested in Argentina looting

Dec. 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Hundreds of people were arrested following widespread looting of supermarkets in Argentina that left two people, authorities said.

The Buenos Aires Herald reported Saturday 471 people were arrested, primarily in the Greater Buenos Aires area that was hardest-hit Friday. Police said there were more disturbances in Campana and Zarate late Friday.

A union official blamed the unrest on "the difficult situation the people of Argentina are facing."

The looting started Thursday afternoon at a supermarket in the Patagonian resort town of Bariloche, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Incidents of looting were also reported in Rosario, where two people were killed during the unrest and 137 people arrested.

Government officials have called the looting acts of vandalism and not social protests.

"These are isolated incidents that are clearly organized and structured. In none of them did people seek food. They took televisions and drinks," said President Cristina Kirchner's cabinet chief, Juan Manuel Abal Medina.

The government has also blamed unions for the attacks, the BBC reported.

Unions, however, have dismissed the government's accusations.

"This is probably triggered by the difficult situation the people of Argentina are facing. I cannot imagine that this has been organized by someone," said Hugo Moyano, head of CGT, Argentina's largest trade union.

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