Brazil Farmers Attack, Mutilate Tribespeople

Survivors say ranchers attacked with guns, machetes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2017 8:03 AM CDT
Brazil Farmers Attack, Mutilate Tribespeople
Campaigners have been fighting encroachment and deforestation in the region.   (Getty Images/Marcelo Horn)

At least 13 Gamela tribespeople in northeast Brazil were injured Sunday as a decades-old land dispute abruptly turned horrifyingly brutal. Survivors of the attack in Maranhao state say dozens of ranchers armed with guns and machetes descended on a new settlement set up on land the Gamela people have been trying to reclaim, the Guardian reports. Survivors say the ranchers, who attacked at night after gathering at a barbecue and drinking heavily, shot at the settlement before hacking at people with machetes, cutting off both one man's hands and severing his legs at the knee. Another man had both his hands cut off, survivors say.

The Indigenous Missionary Council says the 13 injured people were hospitalized in the state capital, Sao Luis, with three still in intensive care as of late Monday, teleSUR reports. Survivors say they believe more injured people may have fled into the surrounding forest during the ranchers' attack. Activists say the land in dispute was wrongly taken from indigenous people by Brazil's former military dictatorship and given to local landowners as pasture land. Campaigners say they have audio of military police promising not to intervene in the attack, which supports survivors' accounts of officers in the area refusing to stop the violence. (Illegal gold miners are creeping closer to this uncontacted Amazon tribe.)

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