Police in Brazil have arrested 18 people in connection with the murder of guaraní indigenous leader Nisio Gomes, 59.
Federal police arrested ten people who were part of a private firm contracted to attack Gomes’ camp. They also arrested eight people, six of whom are landowners, on the suspicion of planning the attack.
Although Gomes’ body is still missing, police have confirmed him death after finding out that a witness was paid to falsely maintain that he was still living.
Gomes was a leader of the Guarani Kaiowa tribe in Amambai, a town located in the province Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. In the November attack, members of the leader’s tribe described how the 40 gunmen broke in to the camp, shot at Gomes and loaded his dead body onto a truck.
The southern province has been the centre of conflict between Guaraní tribes and ranchers. Indigenous activists have noted that farmers use violence against the natives who have little protection from local authorities.
In this area of Brazil, land disputes between these two groups have escalated since the introduction of, Raizen, who has also began to make land claims in order to gain access to sugar cane that is found in the Southern province.
Despite violent clashes between the Guaraní and farmers, Raizen persists that it will respect everyone’s land rights.