Latin America & Caribbean

Indigenous group lynches four policemen in Bolivia

Members of an indigenous community in Bolivia say they have lynched four policemen in the province of Potosi.

They accused the policemen, who belonged to a unit tackling car theft, of extortion.

The area is a well-known smuggling route for cars from neighbouring Chile.

A police chief said the group had threatened to kill anyone trying to retrieve the bodies.

'Thieves in disguise'

In a public meeting, five groups of Aymara and Quechua Indians, known as the Warrior Clans, said they had killed the four officers on Sunday.

"Brothers, we did not kill police officers, we killed thieves disguised as police officers," one local leader is reported as telling the gathering.

Clan members said the police had been charging between $200 and $1,000 in exchange for turning a blind eye to the smuggling of cars from Chile.

Those gathered voted not to return the bodies of the officers until police hand over seven cars they say were stolen from them.

They also demanded an investigation into the deaths of four of their members, who they believe were killed by police.

Potosi Police Chief Orlando Avila told BBC Mundo his officers could not enter the area because "there were sharp shooters stationed all along the highway".

The area where the lynchings took place is home to five indigenous communities, each with around 8,000-10,000 inhabitants.

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