Bolivia’s deputy government minister was beaten to death by striking miners Thursday after attempting to mediate a conflict over the country’s mining laws. Government minister Carlos Romero said Deputy Minister Rodolfo Illanes had been kidnapped and possibly tortured by the miners in the town of Panduro and called the crime a “cowardly and brutal killing.” Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira confirmed the news Thursday night, saying Illanes had been beaten to death by miners who have been demanding more rights in a protest that has paralyzed roads since Monday. The protest, some 100 miles south of La Paz, has turned violent in recent days, with two protesters killed and riot police unable to disperse demonstrators. The country’s approximately 100,000 informal miners are demanding the right to work for private companies, which has been forbidden. Illanes had visited the area of the protests early Thursday to attempt to negotiate but was taken hostage. The government is now trying to recover his body.