At least two dead in Bolivia post-election clashes

La Paz (AFP) –


At least two people have died and six others were injured in clashes between supporters and opponents of Bolivian President Evo Morales following his disputed election victory earlier this month, the government said Wednesday.

The controversial October 20 election, won by Morales but described by his opponent Carlos Mesa as a fraud, has triggered almost a week of violent clashes.

"There have been six people injured (and) two people killed: Mario Salvatierra, 55, Marcelo Terrazas, 41," said the Interior Minister Carlos Romero, following reports of the latest violence in the eastern town of Montero.

Earlier local media reports had said the men were aged 48 and 60.

"The truth is that human lives have been lost, and that is irreparable," Defense minister Javier Zabaleta told local media.

As many as 139 people have been injured since the protests began, state Ombudsman Nadia Cruz said.

The killings came as Bolivia's government agreed to a binding audit by the US-based Organization of American States of the disputed election results, which awarded Morales a fourth term in office.

However Mesa -- who was defeated by Morales in the vote -- rejected the audit.

Angry opposition protesters have set up street barricades and gone on strike since the announcement of the results, fighting Morales supporters with bare hands and makeshift weapons.

Morales has said the protests are part of a "coup d'etat" encouraged by Mesa, who has called for strikes to continue and claimed that civic institutions and social movements supported his rejection of the official results.

The opposition leader has rejected accusations of a coup but has challenged the government: "either I go to jail or go to the presidency."

Demonstrators have also clashed with security forces.