LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The Latest on Bolivia’s political confrontation (all times local):
A Bolivian hospital director says five people have been killed and at least 75 injured in a clash between pro-Evo Morales protesters and soldiers and police in the central town of Sacaba.
Guadalberto Lara, the director of the Mexico hospital in Sacaba, said Friday that most of the people who were killed were hit by gunfire.
Lara, a 65-year-old doctor, told The Associated Press by telephone that it is the worst case of violence that he has seen in his 30-year career.
Thousands of largely indigenous protesters had gathered peacefully in Sacaba in the morning. But fighting began when many tried to cross a military checkpoint near the city of Cochabamba, where Morales’ supporters and foes have clashed for weeks.
Morales resigned on Sunday following a disputed election that sparked massive demonstrations against him alleged vote fraud.
Protesters in Bolivia say several people were killed when security forces opened fire on a demonstration, but the interim government and security officials have not confirmed the report.
Many details of the violence in the central town of Sacaba remained unclear on Friday. The Associated Press was unable to reach the main hospital by telephone despite repeated attempts.
However, several protesters said by telephone that
security forces shot at demonstrators who tried to breach their lines. Police had said earlier they were targeted by protesters with lethal weapons.
Emeterio Colque Sánchez, a 23-year-old university student who participated in the protest, says he saw the bodies of several protesters who had been fatally shot.
Sánchez, who spoke from the site of the clashes, said about two-dozen injured people were taken to a hospital.
Another protester, 40-year-old Franco Rios, also says he saw the bodies of several protesters.
Another witness, 27-year-old Rocio Rocha Perez, says she arrived at the Sacaba hospital as ambulances brought the injured. She says many people were covered in blood and that the scene was chaotic as medical staff rushed to treat the severely injured.
The protesters support former President Evo Morales, who resigned on Sunday following a disputed election that sparked massive demonstrations against him.
Witnesses say clashes are breaking out between supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales and security forces in the central town of Sacaba.
Thousands of largely indigenous protesters had gathered there peacefully Friday. But clashes broke out when many tried to cross a military checkpoint near the city of Cochabamba, where Morales’ supporters and foes have clashed for weeks.
Local media are reporting that several people have been detained and some have been injured.
Riot police also fired tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital. Elderly people and children were caught in the violence and tried to seek shelter in businesses that had been shut behind metal sheets to protect against looters.
Bolivia’s interim leadership says it has broken diplomatic ties with the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and ordered Cuban medical teams to leave Bolivia.
The announcement on Friday represents a turnaround in Bolivia’s foreign policy following the resignation of Evo Morales, a socialist who quit after a disputed election that sparked massive protests.
Karen Longaric, the foreign minister of Bolivia’s interim government, also says the country is leaving the Union of South American Nations, known by its Spanish acronym UNASUR. The group was set up in 2008 by Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and other leftists to support regional integration efforts and counter U.S. influence in South America.
Longaric also says Bolivia is no longer a part of ALBA, a regional group that espouses socialist ideology.
Bolivia’s interim leader says Evo Morales will have to “answer to justice for electoral fraud” if he returns home.
Jeanine Áñez made the comment during a news conference Friday, a day after Morales insisted from asylum in Mexico that he remains the country’s legitimate president because his resignation was forced by the military and wasn’t formally accepted by Congress.
Añez was the top-ranking Senate opposition official when Morales resigned Sunday and says that the resignation of everyone else in the chain of succession left her with the presidency.
Morales left following massive demonstrations across the country alleging fraud in the Oct. 20 presidential election — irregularities certified by a team of auditors from the Organization of American States. Morales had claimed victory in his bid for a fourth term in office.
Áñez said Morales “left on his own. Nobody threw him out.”
Bolivia’s interim leader says Evo Morales can’t run as a candidate in any new elections. That comes even as the ousted leader contends he is in fact still the president of the Andean country since its Legislative Assembly has yet to accept his resignation.
Bolivia is heading into uncharted territory, with lawmakers trying to reach a deal for new elections, protests raging in parts of the country and rival claims to the presidency.
Morales stepped down on Sunday at military prompting following nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an Oct. 20 election in which he claimed to have won a fourth term in office. An Organization of American States audit of the vote found widespread irregularities.