SANTIAGO, Chile – Protesters opposing the visit of President Bush (search) to the Asian-Pacific Economic (search) forum clashed with police early Saturday and stray gunfire left at least three people wounded in working class districts across the Chilean capital.
The protests began after President Bush arrived Friday for the 21-nation forum. Gunfire left one gas station attendant with a bullet wound to the leg in northern Santiago (search), while a police officer in a southern suburb also was hit by a stray bullet, Police Cmdr. Enrique Rivera said.
It was unclear who was shooting, but police said they heard occasional bursts from shotguns and small-caliber weapons. Rivera said a third person also was wounded, but none of the injuries was life-threatening.
While some protesters said they were demonstrating against the APEC summit, which they likened to a rich man's club that does nothing for the poor, much of the anger was aimed at Bush and the war in Iraq.
Bush was meeting Saturday with six counterparts, starting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. He was also scheduled for one-on-ones with the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Canada and Russia.
The APEC forum has sparked days of clashes between demonstrators and police. Many of the protests have centered on downtown Santiago, miles from the main convention site, as police repeatedly used tear gas and truck-mounted water cannons to scatter protesters.
Protests erupted in poor outlying neighborhoods far from Santiago's modern city center and the well-guarded luxury hotels where Bush and fellow world leaders were holding meetings. Thousands of police, including elite units with automatic weapons and officers on horseback have clamped down on the areas.
At the summit's only government-authorized march on Friday, organizers said 40,000 protesters participated, which took place far from the conference center where the leaders are gathering. Police put the number at 25,000.
That march was peaceful, but ended with a confrontation when a group of about 50 masked demonstrators interrupted a rock concert held for the event's close, throwing rocks at police, overturning park benches and tearing down traffic signs. Authorities reported 10 arrests before the protests subsided. A news photographer was hit in the head with a rock, but was not badly injured.
"Bush, get out of our country!" many shouted while others have burned American flags and protested the U.S.-led war in Iraq with cries of "Bush, assassin!"
Bush and other leaders will discuss trade, security, fighting corruption, stronger economic ties. Bush also hopes to use to the APEC gathering to map strategy to restart talks early next year with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions, a senior White House official said.
While the APEC summit started out in 1989 as a gathering to focus on boosting trade among Pacific Rim nations, but its focus has broadened in recent years to include security matters. On Friday, Bush won support from China for a strong U.S. approach toward North Korea.