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Bolivia: 1 killed in attack on coca eradicators

October 20, 2013

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — A group of locals armed with rifles and knives attacked police and soldiers who were destroying illegal coca crops in Bolivia, killing a soldier and injuring at least 16 of his comrades, authorities said Saturday.

It is believed to be the first fatal attack on a coca eradication team since Evo Morales, a coca-growers’ union leader, was elected president nearly eight years ago.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that an army lieutenant was killed with a shot to the chest. Interior Minister Carlos Romero said two police were wounded by bullets.

Authorities said eight local men were arrested after the attack in the community of Apolo, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of the capital, La Paz.

Bolivia’s government considers two-thirds of its coca crop to be legal and dedicated to traditional uses. But it dispatches joint military-police teams to eradicate unapproved coca fields.

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