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Brazil state seeks federal troops over indigenous killings

April 5, 2020 GMT

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Brazilian state of Maranhao is asking the federal government to send National Guard troops to the Arariboia Indigenous Territory after a string of attacks, including five killings, targeting tribesmen known for their fight against illegal deforestation.

State authorities said they decided to seek federal help after Antonio Filho Providência Guajajara, a member of the Guajajara indigenous tribe, was shot in the head Saturday. He was found alive and taken to a nearby hospital.

The attack happened just a few days after another member of his indigenous community was slain. On March 31, Zezico Guajajara, a teacher who had repeatedly denounced illegal logging, was found shot to death on a road near his village.

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Since November, five Guajajara men have been killed.

“I request that the the National Guard be sent to the indigenous area, a federal territory, to prevent further conflicts and deaths,” the state’s human rights secretary, Francisco Gonçalves, wrote in a letter to Justice and Public Security Minister Sergio Moro.

The letter cited “growing internal conflicts” in the indigenous territory, as well as links with organized crime in the region.