Brazil: 4 Killed in Crackdown on Illegal Mines in Yanomami Territory

Four miners of a gold mine in Yanomami Indigenous land in Brazil died in a clash with officials from the country's environmental agency, Ibama, and the Federal Highway Police (PRF), who came to inspect the illegal mine.

Brazil Police WeaponsMining equipment as well as a large-caliber arsenal was seized by PRF and Ibama forces. (Photo: Polícia Rodoviária Federal, License)According to a government statement issued on Monday, the miners attacked the officials during an inspection on Sunday and among the attackers killed was a fugitive from justice in the state of Amapá.

Federal agents confiscated eleven firearms from the attackers, including 12mm shotguns, a rifle, and .45 caliber pistols, which are restricted for use. The bodies were brought to Boa Vista on Sunday night.

The attack, which took place in the Uiaiacás region, is under investigation by the Federal Police.

There are indications that an organized criminal group controls the mining operation where the confrontation occurred.

On Saturday, three indigenous people were shot by miners in the Uxiu region. Ilson Xirixana, a 36-year-old healthcare worker with the Yanomami Indigenous Health District (DSEIY), was killed and the other two victims have been hospitalized.

Sunday's attack on Ibama agents was the fourth since the government began retaking Yanomami territory from illegal miners on February 6th.

Since then, officials have destroyed 327 miners' campsites, 18 planes, two helicopters, hundreds of engines, and dozens of rafts, boats, and tractors. Also, 36 tons of cassiterite and 26,000 liters of fuel have been seized, as well as equipment used by the miners.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called for an emergency meeting on Sunday at the Ministry of Environment (MMA) to address the worsening situation in the Yanomami territory.

Following the meeting, the Federal Government has announced its decision to ramp up efforts to reinforce all actions within the Yanomami territory.

The Yanomami Indigenous Land covers over 9.6 million hectares and is home to the Yanomami and Ye'kwana indigenous communities. The territory is under the protection of the Brazilian government.

According to FUNAI, illegal mining and deforestation have also led to mercury contamination, which poses a severe threat to the health of both the Indigenous communities and the local environment.

The contamination has a direct impact on the food sources of the Indigenous people, who rely heavily on fishing, hunting, gathering fruits and roots, and agriculture.

The consequences of these activities are far-reaching, endangering the survival of the Yanomami people and their way of life.