Venezuela investigating apparent massacre of Yanomami by illegal Brazilian miners

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, August 31, 2012 22:26 EDT
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Yanomami territory via AFP
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CARACAS — Venezuela has sent a team of investigators to the nation’s south to look into the apparent massacre in July of as many as 80 Yanomami Indians by illegal Brazilian miners.

Forensics teams, officials and security forces were “visiting nine Yanomami communities” along the border with Brazil in Amazonas state where the massacres allegedly occurred, Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami told state television.

In the seven communities visited thus far, “no violent incidents” were reported, he said. The other two communities are more remote and cannot be contacted by telephone.

A group that represents Yanomami communities, Horonami Organizacion Yanomami (HOY), on Wednesday accused the illegal miners of carrying out the carnage, burning down a building in which about 80 people lived.

According to HOY, the attack was committed using a helicopter, and the victims were burned beyond recognition. Three Yanomami were out hunting, and found the dead upon their return.

The group, which has represented around 100 Yanomami communities since last year, had urged public authorities on both sides of the border to open a probe into the matter, and has called for the expulsion of illegal miners.

Venezuelan prosecutors opened an investigation into the attack Wednesday.

Photo AFP/Hutukara Yanomami Association/File, Morsaniel Iramari)

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