September 8, 2014 6:03 pm

Top Peruvian foe of illegal logging slain with 3 other indigenous leaders

In this Sept. 26, 2013 photo, an Ashaninka Indian woman is silhouetted against a wall of flames caused by burning branches during a land clearing in Otari Nativo, Pichari district, Peru.

AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd

Peruvian authorities say an outspoken opponent of illegal logging and three other Ashaninka community leaders have been slain in a remote region bordering Brazil.

The activist, Edwin Chota, had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers he tried to expel from traditional Ashaninka lands for which his community was seeking title.

Ashaninka regional leader Reyder Quiltiquari said by phone Monday that Chota and the others were killed and dismembered a week ago while returning to their community, Saweto, on the Upper Tamaya river.

He and police said illegal loggers were suspected. Such logging is rampant in the region, with mahogany and cedar especially prized.

Ashaninka are Peru’s No. 1 Amazon ethnic group and Quiltiquari says violence against them has been rising since they began agitating for titles to their territories.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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