Bolivia arrests four more military officials in connection with failed coup

Bolivia has arrested four more military officials in connection with a failed attempt to unseat the country’s president in a coup allegedly led by its former army chief.

The latest people to be apprehended were the former commanding general of the air force, a sergeant accused of ramming a military vehicle into the government palace, another sergeant accused of driving a separate vehicle carrying military leaders, and an infantry captain accused of coordinating the movement of troops, according to Government Minister Eduardo del Castillo.

The news brings the total number of arrests to 21.

Wednesday’s coup attempt prompted shock around the world, with images out of the capital La Paz showing military personnel occupying a square, armored vehicles ramming the palace door and soldiers trying to break into government offices.

A report sent to CNN by the Bolivian government said military officials first held meetings in May to plot the coup attempt.

The meetings were led by former army chief Gen. Juan Jose Zúñiga and former navy commander Gen. Juan Arnez, with Zúñiga’s civilian personal adviser allegedly devising the “strategy” of the coup, the report claims.

All three men are among those arrested so far.

The Bolivian Attorney General’s Office said Friday that Zúñiga had been ordered into pretrial detention for six months.

Zúñiga has also been charged by the Bolivian Prosecutor’s Office with terrorism and armed uprising, his lawyer Steven Orellana said.

During a media briefing before Friday’s court hearing, Orellana said Zúñiga’s legal team was reviewing the prosecutor’s indictment to prepare his defense.

Zúñiga has said that the coup was a ruse ordered by President Luis Arce himself to try to boost his popularity.

The president denies the claim, saying Zúñiga “acted on his own account.”

Asked about the president’s response, Zúñiga’s lawyer declined to comment.

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