LA PAZ, Bolivia, April 16 (UPI) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Thursday that police had thwarted an alleged assassination plot against him.
Three suspects described as foreign mercenaries were killed by security forces in Santa Cruz and another two suspects were arrested, Morales said after arriving in Venezuela for a conference.
"Yesterday, I gave instruction to the vice president to move to arrest these mercenaries and this morning I was informed of a half-hour shootout at a hotel in the city of Santa Cruz," Morales said.
The BBC said Bolivia's national police chief, Hugo Escobar, described the suspects killed at the hotel as a Bolivian and two Hungarians. Morales said intelligence reports warned that there were also Irish members of the alleged conspiracy and that he, his vice president and a member of his Cabinet had been targeted.
The incident took place a day after a bomb damaged the Santa Cruz home of Roman Catholic Cardinal Julio Terrazas. There was no indication it was related to any plot against the president.
Morales, leader of the Movement for Socialism party and Bolivia's first indigenous native president, has consistently riled the nation's right wing and last fall expelled the U.S. ambassador for supposedly stirring up political opposition to his presidency.