The Weight of Thought

A massacre of up to 80 Yanomami Indians has taken place in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas, according to claims emerging from the region, prompting the government to send in investigators.

Blame is being placed on illegal garimpeiro miners who cross the border from Brazil to prospect for gold and have clashed violently with Amazon tribes before. According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.

The claims were presented to local authorities in Puerto Ayacucho, the capital of Amazonas state on Monday, asking for an immediate investigation of the site where the alleged killing took place, and for the expulsion of the garimpeiros. The event would have taken place during the first two weeks of July but due to the remoteness of the village it is only now been made public.

A spokeswoman at the public prosecutor’s office said the government could not yet confirm the attack nor how many people may have been killed.