Police outside Bolivia's presidential palace abandon posts

Protest against Bolivia's President Evo Morales in La Paz

Buses carrying opposition activists to La Paz came under attack Saturday by Morales supporters in rural Vila Vila, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of La Paz, an opposition leader, Rodrigo Echalar, said on television.

Mesa, who came in second in the October 20 election, joined former presidents Jaime Paz Zamora and Jorge Quiroga in urging the military not to put down the protests.

Defense Minister Javier Zabaleta said a "police mutiny occurred in a few regions", but he rejected the idea of a military intervention "at this time".

An AFP reporter witnessed dozens of police marching alongside opposition activists in central La Paz, shouting anti-Morales slogans.

At least three people have died, the latest a 20-year-old student on Wednesday, and more than 300 people have been injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and Morales' supporters since the disputed election on 20 October.

Morales later gave a news conference at a military airport in which he appealed to Bolivia's political factions to hold talks.

Bolivian Police Chief Vladimir Yuri Calderon had previously denied that a police rebellion was under way and called the Cochabamba incident isolated.

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"Our democracy is at risk due to the coup d'etat that violent groups have launched that undermine the constitutional order", he wrote, as he called on Bolivians to protect their democracy and constitution.

Local news reports on Saturday indicated groups of police in the cities of Tarija, Oruro and Beni, had also joined their colleagues in Santa Cruz, Sucre and Cochabamba in rebelling against Morales' government.

However, his call for dialogue was promptly rejected by several political parties and his closest rival in last month's election, Carlos Mesa - who as a candidate would not have been invited to participate.

The Organization of American States secretary-general, Luis Almagro, issued a statement on Twitter urging the government to safeguard Camacho's right to movement.

Morales declared himself the outright victor even before official results indicated he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with former President Carlos Mesa.

Morales said he would also invite global organizations including the Vatican, the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS), which is conducting an audit of the October vote. Neither Camacho nor Mesa say they will accept the results because they were not properly consulted about the process.

Tensions first flared on the night of the presidential election after the results count was inexplicably paused for 24 hours.

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