Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of leftists rampaging through Santiago on Friday, marking the 25th anniversary of a coup that launched a military dictatorship.

At least five police officers and three protesters had minor injuries in the clashes, which have become a yearly occurrence on the holiday. Police said 116 protesters were arrested.Violence erupted when a Communist Party column attempted to march past mounted police at the presidential palace in a tribute to Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president who died during the military takeover.

The demonstrators first removed mob-control fences and tossed Molotov cocktails.

As police responded with force, the violence then spread to other downtown areas. Masked demonstrators looted shops and a bank office, destroyed traffic signs, and threw rocks at passing vehicles. They also blocked traffic at several intersections with fire barricades.

Meanwhile, official observances of the 1973 coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet were subdued, with the parades and celebrations of previous years canceled in what authorities said was a gesture for national reconciliation.

The army held a Mass at the Military Academy attended by Pinochet.

The coup remains a divisive issue in Chile, where thousands of people suffered under Pinochet's dictatorship. But some Chileans claim the coup was needed to repair the chaos caused by Allende's socialist economic policies.

This was the last time the anniversary will be a legal holiday. It will be replaced next year by what has been called a "day of national unity."

Pinochet, 82, ruled until March 1990.