A policeman was killed, scores of people were hurt and 255 others arrested in violent protests marking the 39th anniversary of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's bloody coup, Chilean authorities said Wednesday.

Militants burned a bus and four cars, police Gen. Luis Valdes told the media.

Three police officers and a 16-year-old boy are in serious condition after receiving gunshot wounds, he said.

Valdes identified the dead officer as Cpl. Cristian Martinez Badilla, 27, who was shot when he tried to prevent the looting of a supermarket in the Santiago suburb of Quilicura.

The general said the use of guns is becoming more common in street disturbances and noted that 83 of the people arrested are minors.

"Minors with armament have participated here," he said. "I want to make an appeal to parents to take responsibility for the hate they have transmitted (to their children) in the days prior to this."

President Sebastian Piñera, a billionaire whose business interests thrived during the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship, condemned the policeman's death and vowed to do everything possible to apprehend those responsible.

"All these actions produce is pain, death and destruction," he said in the wee hours of Wednesday after returning to Santiago from the Asia-Pacific Summit in Russia.

The deputy interior minister, Rodrigo Ubilla, said Tuesday's violence "shows there is a group of Chileans who believe the commemorations of Sept. 11 are synonymous with violence, looting and the murder of a Carabinero who lost his life protecting the public."

Chile's first rightist administration since the restoration of democracy in 1990 did not officially mark the anniversary of Pinochet's Sept. 11, 1973, toppling of the Socialist government of Salvador Allende, who took his own life as troops stormed the president palace.

Leftist parties and civic organizations offered tributes to the victims of the military regime during a ceremony at the Salvador Allende monument, opposite the presidential palace.

"My grandfather was a man consistent with his ideals. He always struggled for a more just society and I believe that that legacy is more relevant than ever," Socialist Party stalwart Maya Fernandez Allende said.

"Today it is the social movements, the students, who have picked up the banner of struggle to end inequality in our country," she said.

Relatives of some of the roughly 3,200 people killed by the Pinochet regime held candlelight vigils Tuesday night in Santiago.

All but nine of the 76 officials and agents of the dictatorship convicted of human rights violations are behind bars, though they are being held in "special" prisons that are considerably more comfortable than ordinary penitentiaries.

Besides killing more than 3,000 people, the Pinochet regime jailed 38,000 others on political grounds.

The majority of political prisoners were tortured. EFE