Triple homicide shocks Argentina reeling from women's killings

PHOTO: The New Paper

BUENOS AIRES - A martial arts instructor killed his ex-girlfriend, her sister and her grandmother in Argentina Sunday, authorities said, days after a mass protest against a brutal series of women's killings.

Armed with a gun and a knife, the 30-year-old man went on a bloody rampage at his ex-girlfriend's home in the western town of Godoy Cruz, killing the three women and badly wounding a seven-month-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, investigators said.

The man then opened the home's gas burners and lit a candle, but authorities arrived before an explosion ocurred, said the security minister for the province of Mendoza, Gianni Venier.

The triple homicide comes after thousands of Argentines dressed in black protested Wednesday against the brutal rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, the latest in more than a year of mass marches to protest violence against women.

In Argentina, domestic violence kills one woman every 36 hours, according to government figures.

The man accused of Sunday's killings has been arrested, said local police chief Roberto Munoz.

His victims were his ex-girlfriend, also 30 years old; her sister, 45; and their bedridden grandmother, 80, said Venier. A nine-year-old boy who hid to protect himself, was the only one unharmed; he phoned a relative to say his father had killed his mother.

The injured older boy, who had been stabbed repeatedly, including in the stomach, and the baby girl, who had multiple bullet wounds, were rushed to a pediatric hospital.

"This psychopath was then searching for the boy who was hiding," Venier said.

The children are in "serious" condition, hospital director Raul Rufeil told TV channel C5N.

"The boy has multiple stab wounds, the most serious one in the abdomen, and is in the operating theatre" he said.

"The baby was wounded in the neck and the chin, with a hole in her mouth," apparently from bullets, he said.

It was unclear whether the children were related to the killer.

Argentina is still reeling from the October 8 killing that triggered last week's protests.

In that case, a high school student named Lucia Perez was allegedly raped and impaled on a spike by drug dealers she had approached to buy a marijuana joint.

Women's rights groups in Argentina have launched a movement condemning not only brutal violence against women, but what they say is a culture and society that values them less than men.