Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras activist killings spark condemnation

Members of the Peasant Unified Movement (MUCA) of Bajo Aguan, carry mock coffins bearing pictures of mates murdered in land conflict clashes, during a march commemorating the country's 191st independence anniversary, in Tegucigalpa, on September 15, 2012. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There have been numerous protests by Muca against killings in land conflicts

The killing of two activists fighting for land rights in Honduras has sparked international condemnation.

Jose Angel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George were shot as they left a meeting in Tocoa in the north-east on Tuesday.

They were both members of Muca, which fights for land it says has been fraudulently taken from farmers and given to multinationals.

Muca says dozens of farmers and activists have died in land rights clashes since 2009.

The most high-profile recent killing was of award-winning indigenous rights activist Berta Caceres, who was shot at her home in the western town of La Esperanza in March.

Mr Flores was the president of Muca (The United Farmworkers Movement of Aguan).

He and Mr George, who had both previously been threatened, were killed by hooded men armed with rifles in Tocoa, 240km (149 miles) north of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Muca opposes large agriculture companies that grow African oil palm, saying land has fraudulently been transferred to them from farmers.

It pursues legal cases on farmers' behalf but also carries out illegal land occupations in the Bajo Aguan valley.

Amnesty International's Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, said Honduras had become a "'no-go zone' for anyone daring to campaign for the protection of the environment".

US Ambassador to Honduras James Nealon condemned the killings, saying: "The United States of America calls for a prompt and thorough investigation and for the full force of the law to be brought to bear against those found responsible."

Government spokesman Luis Osabas said the killings were being investigated.

Image copyright Goldman Environmental Prize
Image caption The murder of Berta Caceres in March was also internationally condemned

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