At Least 28 Killed in Bolivia Unrest

Other News Materials 15 September 2008 05:39 (UTC +04:00)

Officials in Bolivia say at least 28 people were killed in last week's fighting between government and opposition supporters, reported VOA News.

Interior Minister Alfredo Rada announced the near doubling of the death toll Sunday after more bodies were found following Thursday's clash in the northern province of Pando.

The crisis began when supporters of right-wing opposition governors fired shots at pro-government peasant farmers. The clash happened during a protest over proposed constitutional reforms by Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Mr. Morales has accused Pando's governor, Leopoldo Fernandez, of ordering a massacre. Fernandez denies having anything to do with the violence.

The violence prompted Mr. Morales to declare martial law in Pando and send troops to take control of the airport in the provincial capital, Cobija.

Talks are being held between Bolivian authorities and regional leaders in an effort to quell the unrest.

Mr. Morales last week ordered U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg to leave the country, accusing the diplomat of instigating protests.

In La Paz Sunday, Goldberg told reporters the accusation is false and unjustified.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has called an emergency meeting of the 12-nation Union of South American Nations (Unasur) to resolve the crisis.

Ms. Bachelet said she organized the meeting, set for Monday, after talking with Mr. Morales. She said the group will work to bring the sides together and move toward stability and peace in the Andean nation.