Bolivia Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes
Bolivia Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo IllanesReuters

Bolivia's Deputy Interior Minister Rodolfo Illanes was on Thursday beaten to death by the mining workers on strike, the government said. The striking mining workers abducted the minister and later killed him. 

Around 100 people have been arrested in association with the incident and authorities have vowed to punish those responsible for the act. "At this present time, all the indications are that our deputy minister Rodolfo Illanes has been brutally and cowardly murdered," Minister of Government Carlos Romero was reported to have said.

Romero added that the Interior Minister had gone to Panduro, around 160 km from the Bolivian capital La Paz, to talk to the protesters earlier on Thursday. However, he was soon abducted by the miners who were on strike. The body of the minister has not been recovered yet.

Commenting on the incident on television, Defence Minister Reymi Ferreira broke down, and said that Illanes was "beaten and tortured to death". Ferreira also added that Illanes' assistant who had accompanied him to Panduro succeeded in escaping from the miners and is currently undergoing treatment in a hospital in La Paz.

"This crime will not go unpunished. Authorities are investigating ... around 100 people have been arrested," Ferreira said.

The National Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia said that the protest is an indefinite one as negotiations over changes in mining legislation failed recently. According to the government reports, 17 policemen have been wounded until now.

The miners in Bolivia are protesting to bring changes to laws, such as more mining concessions, less stringent environment rules, greater union representation and right to work for private companies.