Bolivia unveils anti-terror unit to fight 'threatening' foreign groups

Officers take part in the presentation of the Bolivian police anti-terrorist group during a ceremony in La Paz, Bolivia, on Dec 3, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

LA PAZ (AFP) - Bolivia's interim government on Tuesday (Dec 3) unveiled a new anti-terrorism police force it said was aimed at dismantling foreign groups "threatening" the troubled South American country.

"This anti-terrorist group has a mission of dismantling absolutely all the terrorist cells that are threatening our homeland," Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said during an official ceremony to present the 60-strong force.

Mr Murillo reviewed the ranks of masked, black-clad troops that make up the new force, called the GAT, at the ceremony in La Paz.

The minister said the state had to act to "free Bolivia from these narco-terrorists who have settled in the country in the last 14 years" - a pointed reference to former president Evo Morales' term in office.

Mr Morales resigned on Nov 10 amid swelling protests over what political opponents said was his rigging of Oct 20 elections.

He fled to Mexico the following day after losing the support of the military and police, claiming to be the victim of a coup.

Mr Morales wrote on Twitter that "the coup plotters who attacked power in Bolivia are now inventing incredible stories to blame others for the terror that they themselves are imposing from the state".

"The only terrorist plan they are carrying out is theirs, with blood and fire against all Bolivians."

The new interim government of right-wing president Jeanine Anez has denounced foreign influence in the country since taking power, naming Colombians, Peruvians, Cubans and Venezuelans at different times.

Her government has blamed foreigners for provoking violent clashes during more than a month of post-election violence in Bolivia that has left dozens of people dead.

Police say an Argentine national arrested and held in the eastern city of Santa Cruz is a former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla who they say stoked violence there.

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