Rodolfo Illanes has been killed by angry miners after being kidnapped, local media reported. Tensions have run high amid protests aimed at countering new mining legislation.
Ongoing deadly protests in Bolivia reached a new level on Thursday when the country's deputy interior minister was found dead after having been kidnapped by striking mineworkers, according to a local journalist.
The head of a mining radio station said Illanes had been found dead after being taken in Panduro, about 160 km (100 miles) outside of the capital of La Paz. "We have been able to see close up that the vice-minister Illanes was dead. Colleagues told us that he had died of a beating," Moises Flores said.
The politician's death hasn't been confirmed by the government. However, a government spokesperson did say earlier that Illanes had been kidnapped and could possibly face torture at the hands of his captors.
Protests turned violent
The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (FENCOMIN) began the strike to protest poor workers' conditions. The miners are demanding higher pay and greater union representation, among other things.
Three days ago the miners began blocking a highway, leading to clashes with police. Reuters news agency reported that at least one person was killed and dozens were injured during the clashes. FENCOMIN slammed authorities for an overuse of force, though police have denied charges of brutality.
Flores suggested that the deputy prime minister's murder might have been in response to the deaths of three miners during the protests, saying the striking miners were "furious" at the authorities.
blc/kl (Reuters, dpa, EFE)