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Brazil: Amazon anti-logging activist killed

A landless peasant is the latest casualty in the fight over land in Brazil.

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Aerial view of a burnt out sector of the Jamanxim National Forest at an illegal settlement November 29, 2009, in the Amazon state of Para, northern Brazil. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images)

An anti-logging activist has been killed in Brazil's Amazon region, bringing the number of such deaths to five in the past month.

The body of Obede Loyla Souza, 31, was found last weekend in the forest surrounding his home in the northern state of Para, BBC reports. The young activist and landless peasant had argued with illegal loggers in the area.

Police told Al Jazeera he was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, and they are investigating his murder.

Four other activists have been killed in Para and Rondonia state in the past month, it states.

A witness to two of the murders has also been killed, Al Jazeera reports.

The deaths are believed to be connected to the activists' fight to end logging in the region.

Souza lived with his wife and three children on unused farmland that they occupied in 2008. He had been farming a small plot on the settlement as the family waited for a government land redistribution program to recognize their land claim, Al Jazeera states.

Souza got into a fight with an illegal logger, another activist said.

"There is in this region a really dangerous group of loggers,'' Hilario Lopes Costa, a co-ordinator for the watchdog Catholic Land Pastoral [CLP] in Para, told Al Jazeera. "He had a fight with one of them over the cutting of these trees, and he was marked man from then on.''

More than 1,150 activists have been killed over land and logging conflicts in the Amazon in the past two decades, AP reports.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/brazil/110615/brazil-amazon-anti-logging-activist-killed-0