The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints evacuates 63 missionaries in Bolivia

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Friday that it would transfer 63 missionaries assigned to Bolivia due to “growing political unrest” in the region.

Daniel Woodruff, a spokesman with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement that the church is transferring the missionaries from the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission.

“This is due to growing political unrest as well as the U.S. government’s recent decision to pull non-emergency workers from that country,” said Woodruff.

This week, the U.S. State Department warned American citizens against traveling to Bolivia because of the unrest in the nation since a contentious presidential election last month.

Security forces near the city of Cochabamba killed five people and injured a dozen more Friday when the forces reportedly opened fire on a crowd of Evo Morales supporters, and at least 13 other people have died during weeks of earlier protests

The LDS church’s missionaries are all from North America, according to Woodruff, and they will be temporarily reassigned to other missions.

He said that those missionaries who are nearing the end of their missions will return home.

According to the church, it has 207,000 members, upwards of 250 congregations, five missions and one temple in Bolivia.

“All other missionaries throughout Bolivia are remaining where they are and will continue with limited missionary work in those areas where it is safe to do so,” said Woodruff.

He added, “the safety of our missionaries is our highest priority, and we will continue to carefully monitor developments in Bolivia and make further adjustments and decisions as circumstances require.”

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