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Man blows himself up in Bolivia congress
Updated: 2004-03-31 09:01

An angry miner with dynamite strapped to his chest blew himself up inside Bolivia's congress Tuesday, also killing two police officers, authorities said.

La Paz Police Chief Guido Arandia said the man whose demand for early retirement benefits underscored the grievances of many low-paid miners in Bolivia stormed into congress around midday and went to a part of the building away from the congressional chambers.

Firemen and police specialists inspect debris after a disgruntled miner detonated explosives strapped to his body inside the Bolivian Congress, killing himself and two police officers, in La Paz, Bolivia, Tuesday, March 30, 2004.  [AP]
The miner detonated his vest laced with at least five sticks of dynamite as congressional security police tried to negotiate, killing himself and fatally wounding two of the police, Arandia said.

Police had evacuated Congress earlier Tuesday after receiving reports that disgruntled miners planned to force their way into the building. Police had no immediate report on whether the bomber was acting alone or with others.

The bombing comes with thousands of Bolivian miners out of work. In recent years the government has opened the country's vast reserves of gold and other mineral deposits to private mining companies.

In October, disgruntled miners joined with indigenous groups and labor organizations in leading days of violent protests against then-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada. Rioting killed at least 58 people and was sparked by the president's unpopular plan to export natural gas.

President Carlos has worked to ease still-simmering social tensions among the majority poor in this country of 8.2 million. But he continues to face pressure from the protest groups to turn around a slumping economy and narrow the gap between rich and poor.

An hour after the congressional blast, an explosion was heard in downtown La Paz but there were no reports of injuries nor official word whether it was related.

Canal 7 showed footage with shattered glass carpeting a side street leading to the ornate colonial legislative palace. Heavily armed police quickly cordoned off the complex in downtown La Paz and were seen dragging one body into a taxi that sped off.

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