Former president Evo Morales' supporters shot dead in clashes between protesters and security forces in central Bolivia's Cochabamba city, AFP news agency reports.

A demonstrator holding a Wiphala flag reacts towards a member of the security forces during clashes between supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales and the security forces, in La Paz, Bolivia November 15, 2019.
A demonstrator holding a Wiphala flag reacts towards a member of the security forces during clashes between supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales and the security forces, in La Paz, Bolivia November 15, 2019. (Reuters)

Five supporters of former president Evo Morales were killed on Friday in violent clashes between protesters and security forces in central Bolivia, according to an AFP correspondent who saw the bodies at a hospital.

Authorities did not report any deaths in the protests outside Cochabamba, though it said 100 people were detained. 

Bolivian hospital director said five people were killed and 75 wounded in Sacaba town, the Associated Press reported.

Guadalberto Lara, the director of the Mexico hospital in Sacaba, said most of the people who were killed were hit by gunfire.

Lara, a 65-year-old doctor, said that it's the worst case of violence that he has seen in his 30-year career.

Thousands of largely indigenous protesters had gathered peacefully in Sacaba in the morning. 

But fighting began when many tried to cross a military checkpoint near the city of Cochabamba, where Morales' supporters and foes have clashed for weeks.

Emeterio Colque Sanchez, a 23-year-old university student who participated in the protest, said he saw the bodies of several protesters who had been fatally shot.

Sanchez, who spoke from the site of the clashes, said about two-dozen injured people were taken to a hospital.

Another protester, 40-year-old Franco Rios, also said he saw the bodies of several protesters.

Another witness, 27-year-old Rocao Rocha Perez, said she arrived at the Sacaba hospital as ambulances brought the injured. Many people were covered in blood and that the scene was chaotic as medical staff rushed to treat the severely injured, she said.

Morales, who has been granted asylum in Mexico, said on Twitter that a "massacre" had occurred and he described Bolivia's interim government as a dictatorship.

Ready to stand aside in new elections – Morales

Earlier, Morales said fresh elections could be held without him, potentially removing an obstacle to choosing a new leader in the South American country thrown into turmoil by his resignation.

''For the sake of democracy, if they don't want me to take part, I have no problem not taking part in new elections,'' Morales told Reuters in an interview in Mexico City. 

''I just wonder why there is so much fear of Evo,'' he added.

Morales said in the interview he did not know who would be the candidate for his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, adding that it would be for the people to decide.

Morales, who has been given asylum in Mexico, said he wants to return to Bolivia as soon as his resignation is approved by the Bolivian legislature. 

"I repeat, if the assembly approves my resignation I can return like any other Bolivian citizen.''

Morales resigned under pressure on Sunday after weeks of protests and violence following an Oct. 20 election that awarded an outright win to him but was tarnished by widespread allegations of fraud.

Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez, who took over on Tuesday after a spate of resignations, has said she wants to mend bridges with MAS party. She has said, however, that Morales himself would not be welcome as a candidate in the next election.

The interim government and MAS lawmakers appear to have reached an accord to hold a new presidential election but have not chosen a candidate.

Bolivia to expel Venezuelan diplomats

Bolivia will expel all officials from Venezuela's embassy in La Paz for "violating diplomatic norms," interim Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said on Friday.

Socialist Venezuela was a key ally of Morales before he resigned as president of Bolivia on Sunday, leading the way for right-wing interim leader Anez to take over.

"All the diplomatic personnel representing [President Nicolas] Maduro at Venezuela's embassy in Bolivia will be allowed to leave the country for having interfered in internal state affairs," said Longaric.

Morales to be charged if he returns

Anez said on Friday that exiled ex-president Morales would have to "answer to justice" over election irregularities and government corruption if he returns.

"He knows he has to answer to justice. There is an electoral crime. There are many allegations of corruption in his government," Anez told journalists in La Paz.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies