Bolivia villagers destroy 5G masts over virus fears
Multiple telecoms masts were destroyed Monday by Bolivian villagers who feared that 5G technology could transmit coronavirus, media reports said.
The South American country does not yet have 5G wireless infrastructure, which has been linked to the pandemic in viral posts on social media. According to the conspiracy theory, electromagnetic radiation causes the symptoms of COVID-19, not a virus -- an idea debunked by scientists.
Four communications towers were destroyed in Yapacani, near the city of Santa Cruz, local police chief Franklin Villazon was cited as saying by the newspaper El Deber. "We were overwhelmed," said Villazon, likening the incident to a "terrorist attack". No serious violence was reported by police.
The villagers had previously held protests demanding the mayor take down the masts over fears that they could spread COVID-19, according to the newspaper. Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said on Twitter that people loyal to former president Evo Morales were destroying masts in Yapacani as well as San Julian and Ichilo, two other eastern towns.
Bolivia's communications ministry issued a statement reminding people that 5G technology is not available in the country and that it is not linked to the respiratory illness. Similar attacks on communications towers have been seen elsewhere, including in Britain.
A man was jailed last week in northwest England for setting fire to a 5G mast following fears the technology was dangerous and spreading the coronavirus. Bolivia has reported more than 19,000 virus cases, including 632 deaths.