Six dead in torching of city hall in Bolivia: hospital

La Paz: Six people died from smoke inhalation when a crowd set fire to a city hall in Bolivia Wednesday in a dispute linked to a corruption scandal, officials said.


The mayor of El Alto, near the capital La Paz, said demonstrators burst in to destroy evidence linked to controversial lawsuits against her predecessors.

“They came in … to burn files relating to cases against former public officials of the MAS,” Mayor Soledad Chapeton told reporters, referring to Bolivia’s ruling socialist party, which formerly governed the city.

Chapeton’s predecessor Edgar Patana, a former ally of President Evo Morales, is facing corruption charges.

The bodies of six people killed in the raid were brought to the local Boliviano Holandes Hospital, its director Gonzalo Fernandez Zapata said on the radio.

The chief administrator of the hospital, Polonia Pinto, added that the victims were three men and three women who died from breathing in smoke after the building was set on fire.

Firefighters came to put out the flames and police fired tear gas to disperse people from the area.

The raid followed a protest by locals who marched to the city hall.

Television pictures showed city hall workers calling for help after climbing onto an upper terrace of the building to escape the fire, while others managed to climb onto the roofs of neighboring buildings.

On Sunday, Bolivians will vote in a referendum on a divisive constitutional reform that could allow Morales to be re-elected until 2025.

He has won the past three presidential elections and has overseen robust economic growth but opponents accuse him of presiding over corruption.



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