President Evo Morales said three men shot dead by an elite National Police squad in the eastern city of Santa Cruz on April 16 were involved in a foiled plot to assassinate him. Police officials said the three men—identified as a Romanian, an Irishman and a Bolivian—were killed after they opened fire on commandos who tried to enter their room on the fourth floor of the Hotel Las Américas. A Hungarian and a Bolivian were taken into custody in connection to the shootout. Bolivia’s official news agency described the five men implicated as mercenaries belonging to a “terrorist cell.”
The group, suspected by authorities of being behind an April 15 dynamite attack on the home of Santa Cruz Catholic Cardinal Julio Terrazas, was tracked down the following day to the Hotel Las Américas. The ensuing gun-battle killed Arpad Magyarosi, a Romanian; Irishman Michael Martin Dwyer; and Eduardo Rozsa Flores, a Bolivian-Hungarian named as ringleader. Authorities say Rozsa Flores fought in the war for Croatian independence in the 1990s, where he commanded a paramilitary group. He was later involved in the right-wing autonomy movement in Santa Cruz, and was named as a member of Opus Dei. The two arrested men were named as Mario Francisco Tasik Astorga, 58, another veteran of the Croatian war, and Elot Toaso, a Hungarian computer expert.
The two detained men were formally charged with “terrorism” by a court in La Paz, where they have been transfered, and authorities say they have already found evidence linking the cell to the Santa Cruz autonomy movement. One anonymous source told the official Bolivian Information Agency the men “were economically financed” by powerful Santa Cruz interests. (BBC News, ABI, April 18; NYT, April 17; Bolpress, Bolpress, April 16)
Right-wing terrorists appear to have been busy in Croatia too lately.
See our last post on Bolivia.