Authorities in Bolivia say striking miners have kidnapped and killed the country's deputy government minister, who had traveled to the area to mediate in the conflict over mining laws.

Government Minister Carlos Romero called it a "cowardly and brutal killing" and asked that the miners turn over the body of deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes.

Earlier, Romero and Attorney General Ramiro Guerrero said that Illanes had been kidnapped, but local media reports that he had been beaten to death by the miners had not been confirmed.

The strike has turned violent recently with two protesters being killed and riot police failing to clear a highway in a western part of the Andean nation.

Illanes had gone to Panduro, 80 miles south of the La Paz, to open a dialogue.