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  • A composite image of pictures shared on social media show some of the injuries sustained by children at the hands of Argentine police.

    A composite image of pictures shared on social media show some of the injuries sustained by children at the hands of Argentine police. | Photo: Nodal

Published 4 February 2016

According to witnesses, police stormed into a working-class neighborhood in Buenos Aires and without warning, fired rubber bullets at the crowd.

Argentina’s Office of the Attorney Against Institutional Violence said Wednesday it had opened an investigation into the actions of police offers who shot rubber bullets at a group of young musicians who were dancing and practicing with their group. 

According to witnesses, police with the National Gendarmerie stormed into the Villa 1-11-14 neighborhood in Buenos Aires without warning Sunday and fired rubber bullets at the crowd, which was mostly comprised of children and youth with the "Los Auténticos Reyes del Ritmo" (The Real Kings of Rhythm street band.

These street bands, known as murgas, are a common sight in Argentina during the carnival season. 

According to witness statements seen by Tiempo Argentino, the police attack was unprovoked. 

"I saw no firearms or anyone throwing stones ... but I can assure you no one had firearms ... Here there are no weapons, there are games, music and joy," said one statement.

“They started shooting and they called us shitty Black people, they insulted us. I started to back away, to run, I grabbed my son and tried to take cover along the walls," read another statement.

Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich at first made no mention of the injured children, instead focusing on injuries sustained by two police officers, whom she claimed were shot during the same operation that saw the children wounded. 

However, activists have accused the rightwing national government of increasing police repression of protests and in general.

Bullrich alleged that police fired their weapons when a “band of criminal elements” attempted to steal an officer's motorcycle.

Reports indicate though that the two officers sustained those injuries after they attacked the children, not during the same operation.

Officials from the Office of the Attorney Against Institutional Violence have requested the officers involved be investigated for “attempted homicide” and that they be suspended from their posts, as well as have their equipment seized.

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