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1 Dead, 7 arrested in protests in northern Dominican Republic

Santiago, Dominican Republic, Oct 29 (EFE).- One person died and at least seven were arrested during protests held Wednesday in communities in the northern and northeastern Dominican Republic to demand social projects, police said.

The fatality was identified as Apolinar Diaz, 36, a customs inspector who was hit by a bullet as he was going to work in the Esperanza free-trade zone, in northwestern Valverde province, during a 24-hour strike called by the Broad Front for Popular Struggle, or Falpo.

Dr. Rigoberto Marte, who ordered the body removed, certified that Diaz was killed by gunfire.

The head of the Northwestern Police Directorate, Col. Rene Mena Sanchez, accused the demonstrators of killing Diaz.

He told reporters that a friend of the victim said that, evidently, demonstrators mistook Diaz for a police officer because he was wearing a black uniform similar to the kind anti-riot police use.

Mena Sanchez also criticized the vandalism that demonstrators allegedly committed during the protests.

In addition, he said that those responsible for such actions will be captured and brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Falpo distanced itself from the fact of Diaz’s death and blamed the incident on the National Police.

“Let them investigate well because our aim is not to attack citizens, but to demand that the needs of the communities be attended do,” the group told reporters.

The protesters are demanding improvements in public health and potable water services, the appointment of teachers to public schools, street and roadway repair and a general increase in salaries, among other things.

Meanwhile, in the country’s second-largest city, Santiago, in the north, residents of Licey Al Medio led by Falpo marched to the provincial government headquarters to demand more public works.

David Polanco, the Falpo spokesman in Licey Al Medio, said that they decided to march to ask President Danilo Medina to intervene to attend to their demands, including roadway repair, construction of a better sewage system and improvements in the power grid and potable water system.

National Police officers were watching the march closely, but no clashes were reported. EFE