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2009-04-20

Three alleged 'terrorists’ killed in Bolivia

Pastor Landívar

Bolivians were left confused following a police raid in which three foreign mercenaries were killed and two more captured in the city of Santa Cruz. The government accused the men of plotting to assassinate the president, Evo Morales, but the opposition e

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Police officers load a body on to a pickup truck after a shootout in Santa Cruz left three alleged terrorist mercenaries dead on 16 April 2009.

Police officers load a body on to a pickup truck after a shootout in Santa Cruz left three alleged terrorist mercenaries dead on 16 April 2009.

LA PAZ, Bolivia – A Bolivian police commando unit burst into a hotel in Santa Cruz in the early morning and killed three alleged members of a terrorist group accused of carrying out two bomb attacks and of plotting to assassinate President Evo Morales. The police also arrested another two people during the raid and found a cache of weapons and explosives hidden in a Santa Cruz exhibition centre.

In a message to the nation, Bolivia’s Vice-President Alvaro Garcia claimed the men belonged to an international mercenary group who were not just plotting to assassinate Morales but also Presidency Minister Juan Ramón Quintana and the opposition governor of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas. Garcia also claimed that the group had been responsible for two earlier bomb attacks: one on Cardinal Julio Terrazas’s residence on 15 April and another on the home of the deputy autonomy minister, Saul Avalos, on 29 March.

The opposition, however, was not convinced and accused the government of staging the incident for political ends. Governor Costas said, according to ABI, that the incident was a show put on by the government to destabilise Santa Cruz.

The dead men, according to El Deber, are Bolivian Eduardo Rozsa Flores, Irish national Michael Martin Dwyer and Hungarian Arpad Magyarosi. Those arrested and now being held in La Paz are Bolivian Mario Tadic and Hungarian Elod Toazo.

Deputy Interior Minister Marcos Farfan told Fides that the group had studied the security at two of the president’s public engagements and were looking for a way to penetrate it. He said that an investigation had not yet been conducted to find out who had financed the group.

According to Vice-President Garcia, the alleged terrorists had hidden their weapons and explosives at a privately owned exhibition centre inside a stand used by Cotas, the Santa Cruz telephone cooperative.

ABI reported that Governor Costas was suspicious because no public prosecutors were present at the police raid. This, he said, meant that the government could have easily planted the weapons found inside the stand.

According to La Prensa, all members of the group seemed to have a military background and some had fought in the Balkans in the 1990s. Their leader is presumed to have been Eduardo Rozsa Flores, the commander of a brigade of international volunteers in the Balkan war, who is considered a war hero in Croatia.

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