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Morales assassins: Bolivia gang "fought in Balkans"

BBC News
April 18, 2009

Bolivia gang "fought in Balkans"

LA PAZ - Two members of a mercenary gang said to have plotted to kill Bolivian President Evo Morales were veterans of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, reports say.

Three died and two were arrested in the eastern city of Santa Cruz after police fought a gun battle with the group.

Bolivian police officials said two of the five fought for Croatian independence. The three others are said to be Irish, Romanian and Hungarian.

They were said to be planning attacks on government and opposition figures.

Chief among the suspected targets was Bolivian President Evo Morales, but Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera and Santa Cruz Governor Ruben Costas, a bitter opponent of Morales, were also targeted, police said.

There has been no immediate explanation of why the alleged plotters would target government and opposition targets alike.

Costas has questioned the government's information, accusing it of "mounting a show" aimed at discrediting the opposition.

Revealing details of the alleged mercenary gang, police chief Victor Hugo Escobar said prosecutors were now seeking "clear and concrete information".

The group, suspected by authorities of being behind a dynamite attack on the home of a Catholic cardinal earlier in the week, was tracked down on Thursday to a hotel in Santa Cruz, some 900km (620 miles) east of the capital, La Paz.

The resulting shootout killed Magyarosi Arpak, a Romanian, and Irishman Michael Martin Dwyer, officials say.

The police chief named Eduardo Rosa Flores, 49, a Bolivian-Hungarian man also killed in the gun battle, as the ringleader of the group.

He fought in the war for Croatian independence in the 1990s where he commanded a paramilitary organization, reports said.

The two men arrested were named as Mario Francisco Tasik Astorga, 58, another veteran of the Croatian war, and Elot Toazo, a Hungarian computer expert.

Morales revealed the existence of the alleged plot as he travelled to Venezuela and Trinidad for regional summits.

He said intelligence reports had warned of an assassination plot by a group comprising foreign attackers intending to "riddle us with bullets".

Early reports from Bolivia's leftist government suggested the plotters were linked in some way to opposition movements in the country's lowlands supported by Costas.

But news that Costas was himself thought to be a target brought a clarification from government officials.

"The terrorist group has a strategy... not only against the president or vice-president, but other authorities as well," Deputy Interior Minister Marcos Farfan told Bolivian radio.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

Messages In This Thread
Morales assassins: Bolivia gang "fought in Balkans" - by Magda Hassan - 18-04-2009, 03:23 PM

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