Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivian farmer dies in protests against Canadian mine

Indigenous people in anti-mining protests in La Paz Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Indigenous protesters say President Evo Morales should expropriate the mine

A Bolivian farmer has died during protests against a silver-mining project owned by a Canadian company.

Local officers said the man had died in clashes with the police, who were sent to the Malku Khota project after protests turned violent.

Five employees were taken hostage, but three have now been released.

Bolivian Government Minister Carlos Romero has denied that any clashes took place on Friday, and said the farmer died in an dynamite accident.

"Police sent to the area were not carrying firearms," said Mr Romero.

"According to local medical reports the local farmer who died had dynamite batons attached to his waist. He was drunk and one of them went off, killing him," he added.

Missing officers

The Malku Khota project, near the southern city of Potosi, is owned by a subsidiary of Canada's South American Silver Corporation.

It has huge reserves of silver and indium, a metal used in flat-screen televisions.

The company says it has invested more than $50m (£32m) in the project since it took over in 2007.

Local indigenous groups are demanding that left-wing President Evo Morales cancel the mining concessions - due to end in three years - citing environmental concerns.

The demonstrations turned violent on Thursday.

Three Bolivian employees were detained by people from the local Quechua community, bringing to five the number of hostages in the mining camp.

The government said the three were released later on Friday, but there is no information on whereabouts of the other two, who are engineers and were captured more than a week ago.

Minister Carlos Romero said three police officers were still missing following the confrontations. At least four farmers were injured in Thursday's clashes.

Indigenous groups have also taken their protests against the mining project to Bolivia's main city, La Paz.

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