Brazilian Indigenous Man Shot Dead in Mato Grosso do Sul

A Brazilian indigenous man has been shot dead in an area disputed by cattle ranchers and the Guarani ethnic group in western Mato Grosso do Sul state.

Celso Rodrigues, 42, was walking near a stream near the Paraguacu reserve when he was ambushed, say his family.

Indigenous rights group Survival International said he was murdered by a gunman working for local ranchers.

But a police officer in charge of the investigation said the killing may not be linked to the land conflict.

"The father and the sister of the victim have said that there is a peaceful relationship with local ranchers in the area," police officer Rinaldo Moreira told Agencia Brasil.

Mr Rodrigues was killed on Wednesday, but the incident has only now been reported.

His father said they had been walking together from the indigenous reserve to a local farm where he worked, near the city of Sete Quedas, when the attack took place.

A man wearing a balaclava shot Mr Rodrigues with a handgun. When he fell on the ground, injured, he shot him again with a rifle, said the victim's father, who escaped unscathed.

Belo Monte dam

Tension is high in Mato Grosso do Sul, where another indigenous man was killed two weeks ago in a police operation to evict hundreds of members of the Terena ethnic group from a cattle ranch.

At least 560 indigenous people have been murdered in Brazil in the last decade, says the Missionary Indigenous Council (Cimi), which is linked to the Catholic Church.

The Cimi figure includes killings in conflicts between indigenous groups.

Most of the victims are in Mato Grosso do Sul state, a vast area of cattle ranches and sugarcane and soya plantations bordering Bolivia and Paraguay on the west.

Conflict in the area is mostly over the demarcation of indigenous reserves.

In the Amazon region, the Munduruku indigenous group have been protesting against the construction of the huge Belo Monte hydroelectric dam in their ancestral lands.

They occupied one of the dam's building sites and took their protest to the capital, Brasilia, where they had meetings with government officials.

Indigenous leaders say Belo Monte will destroy their way of life.

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