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Page last updated at 01:11 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Bolivian unrest ruled 'massacre'

Bolivian President Evo Morales at the presidential palace in La Paz on 27 November 2008
Mr Morales called the protests an attempt to destabilise his government

A commission investigating the killing of 20 Bolivians during protests in an opposition-controlled province has described it as a "massacre".

Bolivian President Evo Morales says he welcomes the findings into the deaths in September.

"Conspiring against democracy...using terrorism...it's not the best way," Mr Morales said.

The commission recommends those responsible for the deaths be tried for murder in Bolivian courts.

The opposition has dismissed the report as biased and politically motivated.

The high-ranking regional commission was appointed following an emergency meeting of the leaders of the Unasur group of South American countries three days after the killings.

Map

Long-standing political unrest erupted into violence in September, killing at least 20 people, mainly in the Pando region near the Brazilian border.

The unrest flared during a bitter power struggle between the leftist president and conservative rivals opposed to his drive to implement a new constitution.

Unveiling the commission's findings on behalf of the 12-member panel, Argentine legal expert Rodolfo Mattarollo said some of the 20 mostly Morales supporters were killed in what he called "a massacre under the UN definition of the word".

He said some of the killers worked for Pando's opposition-controlled provincial government.

Following the violence, the Bolivian government declared martial law in Pando and arrested its governor, Leopoldo Fernandez.

It accused Mr Fernandez of hiring hitmen to kill farmers on their way to a pro-government rally, charges he denies.

The state of emergency was lifted late last month.

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