Bolivian troops have arrested an opposition governor accused of leading attacks that killed at least 15 government supporters. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports that unrest in Bolivia has prompted U.S. officials to withdraw aid workers from the country.
Bolivian military officials say Governor Leopoldo Fernandez was taken into custody without incident and placed on an airplane for La Paz. The nation's top prosecutor says he plans to charge Fernandez and other opposition leaders with genocide for allegedly organizing the attack that killed at least 15 people last week. Scores of others have been reported missing in the rural area along the Brazilian border.
President Evo Morales declared martial law in Pando province and deployed troops to the region following a series of violent clashes. Opposition members seized government buildings in Pando and three other provinces to protest a constitutional reform plan.
Mr. Morales says the federal intervention in Pando is aimed at restoring order to the area. He called the governor's arrest legal under the constitution, and said the armed forces are completing their duties in the region.
Meanwhile, the president met with other opposition leaders in an effort to resolve the dispute over his plans to hold a referendum on a new constitution.
In response to the latest unrest in eastern Bolivia, the United States has withdrawn about 130 Peace Corps volunteers and placed them in Peru. Officials say U.S.-backed anti-drug efforts in rural Bolivia also have been interrupted.
U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack says violent demonstrations have raised concerns about all U.S. staff in Bolivia.
"Any sort of harm that would come to any of our personnel would imperil the ability over the long term for us to have the kind of programs that we have there right now," he said. "So the common thread is security."
Last week, President Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador, accusing him of siding with opposition leaders in the country. In response, U.S. officials ordered Bolivia's ambassador in Washington to leave the country.