The arson deaths of an elderly couple in their ranch home on land claimed by Mapuche Indians have cast a cold light on the indigenous group's struggle in southern Chile's Araucania region.

Chile's government has spent decades trying to appease Mapuche demands, but violence has only increased. Many blame Mapuche extremists and police overreaction for the current impasse.

Over the past five years, reported acts of violence from the Mapuche struggle have escalated 10 times over, prompting a police response that the indigenous group says has been heavy-handed and abusive.

Now, Chile's government is at an impasse over how to ease tensions. In the last three years, it has returned 10,000 hectare (25,000 acres) to the Mapuche and encouraged timber companies and other landowners to let people till small plots.