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U.S. OKs departure of some embassy staff from Bolivia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department has approved the departure of nonessential personnel from its embassy in Bolivia due to threats against Americans and upheaval in the South American country, a U.S. official said on Friday.

The move came at the end of a week in which the United States and Bolivia expelled each others’ ambassadors after Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the United States of backing protests against him.

“The Department of State has approved the authorized departure of nonemergency employees and dependents,” said the U.S. official, who asked not to be named. The step was taken “due to threats against official Americans, and the overall situation in the country right now,” he said.

Bolivia is in a fresh cycle of violence as a political crisis pits leftist Morales against rightist opposition governors of resource-rich Bolivian provinces.

The official declined to elaborate on the nature of the threats against Americans in Bolivia.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said on Thursday there had been threats to U.S. counter-narcotics operations in Bolivia that had already prompted the withdrawal of Drug Enforcement Administration personnel from the Chapare region.