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Official: Striking Miners Killed Bolivian Deputy Minister

Independent miners clash with the police as they run from clouds of tear gas during protests in Panduro, Bolivia, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Reports from Bolivia say miners have kidnapped and killed the country's deputy interior minister, Rodolfo Illanes.

Government Minister Carlos Romero has asked miners to return the body and called the act a "cowardly and brutal killing."

Fifty-six-year-old Illanes went to talk to miners in Panduro, some 160 km from the capital, La Paz, to negotiate in the conflict over mining laws.

Miners are demanding changes in laws, and on Tuesday protests turned violent after they blocked a highway and clashed with police. Miners then agreed to begin negotiations with the government Friday morning.

Protestors want mining concessions and the right to work for private or foreign companies, and greater union representation.

Before officials could confirm the minister's death, local media reported that a radio station director had seen Illanes' body.