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Bolivian Cabinet Ministers Kidnapped in Construction Dispute


Bolivia's government says three Cabinet ministers have been kidnapped in a Bolivian town near the Brazilian border, in a dispute over construction permits for foreign investors.

In the capital La Paz, Bolivia's defense minister Walker San Miguel, says local residents seized the three ministers Tuesday. They are being held hostage in the southeastern town of Puerto Suarez in Santa Cruz province.

The three abducted officials: Carlos Villegas, Celinda Sosa and Walter Villarroel head Bolivia's planning, economic development and mining ministries. No violence has been reported.

Local officials in Puerto Suarez support plans by a Brazilian company, E.B.X., to build a large steel foundry in the area, but Bolivia's national government says foreign-owned projects are forbidden within 50 kilometers of the border.

The proposed steel plant would lie near Bolivia's famed El Mutun iron deposits - an orefield that may hold up to 70 percent of the world's known reserves of iron and magnesium.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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