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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Bolivia ministers freed by troops
Bolivian security forces have freed three ministers who had been taken captive by protesters in a village near the border with Brazil, officials say.

Police said 100 agents had taken part in the operation and the ministers were now being taken to the city of La Paz.

The trio were in Puerto Suarez to tell locals a Brazilian project being built broke rules barring foreign ownership within 50km (30 miles) of the border.

But the local people want the steel plant to be approved.

Environment row

Planning Minister Carlos Villegas, Economic Development Minister Celinda Sosa and Mining Minister Walter Villarroel were taken captive on Tuesday evening.

Residents were demanding the government grant an environmental licence to the Brazilian EBX steel company.

Officials had stopped the project to revise factors including the company's request for such a permit.

The government is reported to be concerned by the environmental implications of plans to power the foundry by charcoal.

Defence Minister Walker San Miguel described the government stance on rules banning foreign ownership as "non-negotiable" and EBX "shameless" for starting construction without permits, according to state news agency ABI.

Country profile: Bolivia
22 Jan 06 |  Country profiles


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