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Thousands across Argentina demonstrate over disappearance of activist

Thousands of people joined protests across Argentina to demonstrate against the disappearance of a human rights activist last month.

Violent clashes took place between protestors and security forces, with reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown at police headquarters in the southern region of Patagonia, where 28 year old Santiago Maldonado disappeared on August 1.

At least 23 people were injured and 30 arrested.

Campaign groups and non-governmental organisations from across Argentina rallied together to call for the return of Mr Maldonado. He was last seen at a protest march by the Mapuche indigenous group and was reported detained by military police who broke up the demonstration.

As thousands of people marched through the capital Buenos Aires on Friday, Mr Maldonado’s brother told the crowd that “the state continues to deny his disappearance, and it seems like it denies his mere existence”.

Several organisations have also laid the blame with security forces, with Norma Rios, president of the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights, stating that "this is clearly the forced disappearance of a person by a state entity".

Argentina has a long and troubled history with enforced disappearances, with almost 30,000 people disappeared under a military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Mariela Belski, Amnesty's executive director in Argentina also commented on the case, adding that “the state must make every effort to find Maldonado, even more so if it is taken into account that Santiago disappeared in the context of a social protest where Gendarmerie intervened".

The campaign to find the whereabouts of the activist has galvanised thousands across the country, including football star Diego Maradona and Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, who joined the campaign on social media.

Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich denied security forces were responsible for the disappearance, stating that "the police are not the same as 40 years ago".

See more from the BBC here, New York Times here, AFP here and Deutsche Welle here.