AN Irishman was reportedly among a group of international terrorists shot dead as they plotted to kill Bolivian President Evo Morales.
The chief of police in the South American country, Hugo Escobar, told a news conference his officers had foiled the plot to kill Mr Morales and that following a 30-minute gunfight in the city of Santa Cruz the three people, including the unnamed Irishman, were killed.
A further two were arrested and taken to the country’s capital La Paz for interrogation.
The police chief said the terrorists were made up of Croatians, Irish and Bolivian “far right”.
Mr Morales himself appeared to claim responsibility for the police operation.
“I had information several days ago that they were preparing an assassination attempt,” he told reporters at a conference which he is attending in Venezuela.
“Yesterday, I gave the vice president and the commander of the national police instructions to stage an operation and detain those mercenaries.”
The president claimed the alleged plot was linked to right-wing opponents of a new election law that is enabling him to run for a second five-year term in December, and which grants broad new rights to the country’s indigenous communities.
According to the chief of police, a hotel in Santa Cruz was raided at 5.30am (10.30am Irish time) yesterday and after the shoot-out a large quantity of explosives and high-powered weapons were recovered.
He said his men also recovered plans to follow the president’s motorcade.
The three people killed and two arrested are also suspected of involvement in the bombing of local Catholic Cardinal Julio Terrazas’ house in Santa Cruz on Wednesday.
Mr Morales, a socialist, is Bolivia’s first indigenous president and has faced strong opposition in relatively wealthy regions of the country, including Santa Cruz.
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