Bishop, Nun Slain by Amazon Indians
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ Two Catholic missionaries, a bishop and a nun, were killed in an arrow attack by primitive Indians in an oil-producing region of the Amazon jungle, officials said. Their bodies were discovered Wednesday.
A helicopter pilot who had left the two in a remote area about 150 miles northeast of Quito on Monday discovered their bodies when he returned for them, a high-ranking member of Ecuador’s Roman Catholic bishops’ conference said.
The churchman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two were slain near an oil well in the Aguarico region by natives of the Aucas tribe they were seeking to convert to Christianity.
He said he did not know why the Indians killed the missionaries, whom he identified as Bishop Alejandro Lavaca Ugalde of the Aguarico diocese, a Spaniard, and Sister Ines Arango of the Capuchin order, a Colombian.
Wilson Pastor, manager for international contracts of the state oil company Cepe, said the two were slain near one of the company’s isolated wells in Napo Province. He said their bodies would be brought to Quito on Thursday.
The church spokesman said Lavaca had spotted a group of about 10 Aucas on Monday while over flying the jungle and dropped them gifts the pilot touched down and left the missionaries.
″As on other occasions, before contacting primitive natives, Father Lavaca would first drop from the air gifts to gain the friendship of the natives,″ the church source said. The bishop had lived for several years with Aucas and had been in Ecuador for about 20 years, he added.
The government estimates 30,000 Indians live in the Amazon region. Many have adopted civilized ways in recent years, including many of the Aucas. But other Aucas still live in the deep jungles and are protective of their traditional lifestyles.
The church spokesman said a formal report would be released on Thursday.