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Bolivia: Protesters cut off mayor’s hair, cover her in red paint and drag her through the streets

Zoe Tidman
EPA

Anti-government protesters have reportedly attacked a mayor from a small Bolivian town, covering her in red paint and cutting her hair.

Patricia Arce, a member of the ruling Mas party, was dragged barefoot through the streets by demonstrators before being taken away by the police.

The Vinto mayor was also forced to sign a resignation letter and the town hall was set on fire, according to the BBC.

Crowds were blocking a bridge near Vinto, a town in the Cochabamba department which has seen demonstrations since the disputed presidential election on 20 October.

After hearing rumours two anti-government protesters had been killed nearby, a crowd marched to the town hall, Los Tiempos newspaper reported.

They got hold of the mayor, dragged her through the streets and attacked her while shouting “murderer”, according to reports.

One of the rumoured deaths was later confirmed, the BBC said.

Limbert Guzman, a 20-year-old student, is the third person to die following street clashes between supporters of the Bolivian president Evo Morales and opposition protesters.

Mr Morales called the young man an “innocent victim of violence provoked by political groups encouraging racial hatred amongst our Bolivian brothers” on Twitter.

Protests have been ongoing for the three weeks following the last election in which Mr Morales, who has been president since 2006, was victorious.

His win was marred by almost a 24-hour half in the count which showed a sharp increase in support for Mr Morales once resumed.

International governments have called for calm and are backing an audit of the election by the Organisation of American States (OAS), which has recommended that a second round vote go ahead. Mr Morales has agreed the audit will be “binding.”

The OAS has called for calm while it completes its audit.

Since the vote, cities have gone into lockdown, with daily marches and road blocks.

A Bolivian protest leader who has become a symbol of opposition to President Evo Morales has arrived in the nation’s capital, La Paz, where he plans to formally demand the leftist leader step down after a contentious election last month.

Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from Santa Cruz, plans to march to the presidential palace with a pre-written letter of resignation for Mr Morales to sign.

Reuters contributed to this report

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