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Man wounds 11 in Bolivia airport knife attack; officials say he is mentally disturbed

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LA PAZ, Bolivia — An emotionally disturbed farmer wielding a kitchen knife went on a rampage in the terminal of the La Paz international airport on Thursday, stabbing 11 people, authorities said.

Hospital officials said most of the wounds did not appear to be life-threatening although eight of the victims were hospitalized. They said one woman underwent surgery for an abdominal wound and another had a punctured liver. Among the wounded was the police lieutenant who detained the man.

Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez said the attacker told police he "heard voices" and went on the attack to defend himself.

"The man arrived from a village. He is mentally ill and he approached a ticket sales counter and began to attack" passengers who had lined up to board local flights, said Perez.

Police identified the attacker as Javier Virgilio Cusi, a 41-year-old ethnic Aymara man from the highlands town of Santa Rosa.

"The man has mental problems. He gives incoherent accounts. He says he confused his victims with hens," said police commander Adolfo Cardenas.

All of the victims were Bolivians, officials said, and most were female passengers.

One of the wounded told PAT television that the attacker struck many victims in the back.

The court-appointed lawyer for Cusi, Monica Irusta, said he had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and that a psychological exam had been ordered.

She said his declarations were incoherent. At one point, she said, he said he went to the airport to meet with God. At another, he said he went to sell domestic animals.

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