12 dead after attacks on Indigenous communities in Nicaragua

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Settlers have again attacked Indigenous communities in Bosawas nature reserve on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, killing a dozen members of the Miskito and Mayangna people, activists and environmentalist charged Wednesday.

The reserve has been hit by illegal mining and logging despite its status as a protected area, and activists have reported several attacks on Indigenous people.

Environmentalist Amaru Ruiz, director of the Del Río Foundation, blamed the latest assault on settlers who have invaded indigenous lands.

“It was a massacre,” Ruiz said. “Residents have so far confirmed the deaths of nine Miskito people and three Mayangnas.”

The Center for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Peoples said in a statement that Indigenous residents were attacked “with machetes and guns, and were tortured. They hung their bodies from a tree.”

The Nicaraguan government had not confirmed the killings. Ruiz said authorities had not been to the remote community where they occurred.

One resident told a local radio station that neither the army nor the police had responded. A request for comment from the army went unanswered.

Indigenous activists say the government of President Daniel Ortega has not done enough to address the problems on the jungle-clad coast, something his administration denied.

Human rights lawyer María Luisa Acosta said the latest attack was the fourth this year on Indigenous communities in the Bosawas area.

The Center for Justice and Human Rights on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua said at least 49 Indigenous people have been killed by settlers since January, and many others were forced to flee.

Activists say many of the settlers moving onto the lands are former soldiers linked to timber and illegal logging interests.

In March, Indigenous groups complained to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights about land takeovers and killings that have hit the Miskito and Mayangna communities. The commission is part of the Organization of American States.

One of the worst attacks came in January 2020, when settlers burned 16 houses in the Indigenous community of Alal and killed at least four inhabitants. Last March 4, an attack on the Mayangna community of Kimak Was left one person wounded and another missing.

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