Looters ransacked supermarkets in several Argentine cities, causing two deaths and evoking memories of widespread theft and riots that killed dozens during the country's worst economic crisis a decade ago.

Santa Fe Province Security Minister Raul Lamberto described the attacks as simple acts of vandalism and not social protests.

Lamberto said two people were killed by a sharp object and gunfire after attacks yesterday on about 20 supermarkets in the cities of Rosario and Villa Gobernador Galvez. He said 25 people were injured and 130 arrested during the looting about 305km northeast of Buenos Aires.

Closer to the capital, riot police fired rubber bullets to drive off a mob that was trying to break into a supermarket in San Fernando.


A police lieutenant was hit on the head with a crowbar and suffered severe injuries during the clashes, authorities said. Officials said 378 people were arrested during those confrontations.

Some shops closed in several cities despite the busy Christmas shopping season, because of worries that looting might spread.

The troubles followed a wave of looting that began Friday when dozens of people broke into a supermarket in the Patagonian ski resort of Bariloche. The Government deployed 400 military police to that southern city.

- AP