LA PAZ, Bolivia – Bolivian authorities say a group of locals armed with rifles and knives has attacked police and soldiers who were destroying illegal coca crops, killing a soldier and injuring at least 16 of his comrades.
It is believed to be the first fatal attack on a coca eradication team since Evo Morales, a coca-growers' union leader, was elected president nearly eight years ago.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that an army lieutenant was killed with a shot to the chest.
Authorities said eight local men were arrested after the attack in the community of Apolo, about 90 miles north of La Paz.
Bolivia's government considers two-thirds of its coca crop to be legal and dedicated to traditional uses. But it dispatches joint military-police teams to eradicate unapproved coca fields.