World

SUCRE – Bolivia’s Deputy Interior Minister, Rodolfo Illanes, has been killed after being kidnapped by protesting miners, a senior government official has confirmed.

Rodolfo Illanes, 56, and his bodyguard had gone to talk to protesters earlier on Thursday in Panduro, around 160km from the capital, La Paz, but was intercepted and kidnapped by striking miners.

“All the indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly assassinated,” said Carlos Romero, the minister of government.

“The government was trying to recover his body,” Romero told local media and added that more than 100 arrests had been made.

Independent miners block a main highway during a protest against Bolivia's President Evo Morales' government policies, in Panduro south of La Paz, Bolivia, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/David Mercado

President Evo Morales has reportedly been “profoundly affected” by Mr Illanes’s death.

Two miners also died from gunshot wounds during clashes with police.

Protesters have been demanding more mining concessions with less stringent environmental rules, the right to work for private companies, and greater union representation, the BBC reports.

The National Federation of Mining Co-operatives of Bolivia, once strong allies of President Morales, began what they said would be an indefinite protest after negotiations failed.

Protests turned violent this week after two workers were killed on Wednesday after shots were fired by police. The government said 17 police officers had been wounded.