Police in Buenos Aires cordon off Villa Soldati camp

Image caption,
The Gendarmerie has been on patrol at the site of the clashes

Police in Argentina have cordoned off an area of the capital, Buenos Aires, after a week which saw at least three people killed in clashes between squatters and local residents.

Around 1,000 people, many of Bolivian and Paraguayan origin, had pitched tents in a park after being evicted from an illegal shantytown.

When police failed to remove them, some local residents attacked the migrants and two Bolivian men and a Paraguayan woman were killed.

Police say they have now restored calm.

Heavily armed members of the security forces along with armoured vehicles and helicopters have been deployed to the district, Villa Soldati.

Lethal clashes

Residents armed with sticks and rocks had attacked the camp in an effort to scare its occupants into leaving.

At least three people were killed in the clashes, although reports of a fourth victim have not yet been confirmed by the authorities.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires says the violence has shocked Argentina, where rising crime was already a major issue.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner responded on Friday by announcing the creation of a new security ministry, to be headed by Defence Minister Nilda Garre.

As the violence flared, the police were criticised for their absence and there have been bitter recriminations between the Buenos Aires city and Argentine national governments, which rarely see eye to eye, our correspondent says.

There have also been allegations that the attackers were members of gangs paid for by local politicians linked to the governing party.

Villa Soldati is, for now at least, under control but the violence, on the hot and humid summer evenings, has forced the Argentine authorities to at least begin to address a number of contentious issues, our correspondent says.

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