One dead as Bolivian military lifts fuel blockade

La Paz (AFP) –


A protester was killed and several others wounded in clashes Tuesday with Bolivian troops lifting an opposition blockade of fuel supplies to La Paz, the public ombudsman's office reported.

Troops and police had moved to lift the siege on a fuel plant in El Alto by supporters of ex-president Evo Morales that has caused acute shortages in nearby La Paz.

A spokesman for the ombudsman's office said the 31-year old man was hit by gunfire during the clashes in El Alto.

"We are asking the authorities for an investigation," the spokesman told AFP.

The death brings to 25 the number of people killed since the unrest began in the wake of October 20 elections, according to a tally by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

A convoy of around 50 fuel tankers was able to leave the Senkata plant in El Alto for the first time in more than a week after police and military forces using armored vehicles secured the route to neighboring La Paz.

The convoy included gasoline, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tankers.

Morales supporters erected barricades around the El Alto plant last week to protest what they said was a coup by interim President Jeanine Anez.

The blockade caused serious fuel shortages in La Paz, the scene of daily protests against the new government. Public transport has largely been paralyzed by the shortages.

As many as five people were wounded in the clashes, local media reported.

Morales condemned the death in a tweet from Mexico, which granted him political asylum after he resigned.

"I denounce to the world that the de-facto government in the style of military dictatorships is again killing my brothers in El Alto, who are peacefully resisting the coup and are fighting in the defense of life and democracy."

The deadliest clashes occurred last Friday in the central city of Cochabamba, where nine people were killed in a confrontation with the army and police.

The ex-president has repeatedly criticized a decree by the interim government that exempts the military from criminal responsibility in responding to riots.

Another decree signed by Anez allocated $4.8 million to the armed forces for military equipment.

The shortages forced the government to consider the possibility of importing fuel from neighboring Chile, according to Hydrocarbons Minister Victor Hugo Zamora.