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Coca growers police clash in Bolivian capital

Coca growers, police clash in Bolivian capital

Clashes broke out in the Bolivian city of La Paz on Monday between protesters and riot police that left several people injured, according to officials.

In one neighborhood of La Paz, hundreds of anti-government coca growers clashed with the police to demand the closure of a parallel market run by a supposedly pro-government union.

Protesters, who accused the government of protecting the group, attempted to use dynamite to against riot police, but a grower was severely injured in the explosion.

In Bolivia, the constitution classifies coca as a "sacred leaf" because of the Andean cultural heritage and traditional uses such as chewing and natural medicine, which are widely practiced in the country.

However, much of coca leaf production is diverted to cocaine, of which Bolivia is the world's third-largest producer after Colombia and Peru.