Fourth indigenous man killed in six weeks in northeastern Brazil

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A member of the indigenous Guajajara group has been murdered in the northeastern Maranhão state of Brazil, Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency Funai said on Friday, the fourth such killing in the past six weeks.

Funai said in a statement that Dorivan Soares Guajajara was “brutally assassinated” along with another non-indigenous man, Roberto do Nascimento Silva. Their bodies were found in the Vila Industrial neighborhood in the municipality of Amarante.

The agency said it is closely following an investigation opened by the local and state-level security forces and awaits further details.

Funai said that local police had dismissed links to land disputes or illegal logging operations in the state, as well as any ethnic motivation, although the location of the crime is near where two other members of the Guajajara were killed six days ago in a drive-by shooting.

That double assassination followed the killing in early November of Paulino Guajajara, a leader of a vigilante group created by the Guajajara to protect the forests from illegal loggers.

Sonia Guajajara, coordinator of APIB, a group that defends indigenous rights in Brazil, denounced the most recent assassination as another example of crimes caused by hate.

“All the people that don’t like us feel that they have clearance to kill, because they know that impunity rules,” she said in a post in Twitter.

“The time has come to say: that’s enough,” she said.

Deforestation has risen sharply in Brazil in the first year of the new government of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro.

Some of the areas being targeted by illegal loggers and land grabbers are indigenous territories, such as the Guajajara areas in Maranhão.

Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; editing by Nick Macfie