updated 10/25/2008 6:58:39 PM ET 2008-10-25T22:58:39

A top Bolivian official on Friday accused the United States of backing armed anti-government groups in a violent jungle clash that left 15 people dead last month, including 13 supporters of leftist President Evo Morales.

Presidential Minister Juan Ramon Quintana said that Bolivia would "denounce before the entire world" that the U.S. had "participated in the massacre" on Sept. 11 in the remote Amazonian province of Pando.

Quintana did not provide any evidence for the charge or elaborate on what he meant by the word "participate," alleging only that the U.S. "accompanied the criminal policies" of Pando's opposition governor, Leopoldo Fernandez, who has since been jailed for allegedly fomenting the violence.

Quintana also accused the U.S. Agency for International Development of unspecified "direct involvement" in the province.

U.S. officials could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Morales has frequently accused the U.S. and its aid programs of conspiring against his government. American officials have denied the charges.

An already tense relationship between the two countries has soured dramatically in recent months. Bolivia booted its U.S. ambassador last month, and Washington quickly followed suit.

The U.S. later placed Bolivia on an anti-narcotics blacklist after Morales supporters demanded that U.S. aid programs and Drug Enforcement Administration officials leave a central Bolivian coca-growing region last month.

Washington has since announced the suspension of a trade deal that could cost South America's poorest country an estimated 20,000 jobs.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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