Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil activist shot dead by gunmen while recovering in hospital

Waldomiro Costa Pereira, an activist with the Landless Workers Movement Image copyright MST/@MST_Oficial
Image caption Waldomiro Costa Pereira was shot dead on Monday while recovering in hospital

A prominent land rights activist has been shot dead by five gunmen at a hospital in Brazil where he was recovering from a previous assassination attempt.

Waldomiro Costa Pereira was killed after the men burst into the building in the state of Para and surrounded guards, campaigners said.

Mr Costa Pereira was an activist with the Landless Workers Movement (MST).

He frequently demonstrated in support of land reform in Brazil.

The MST wrote in a statement that it was "with immense sadness that we mourn his death" adding that the group stood "in solidarity with his wife, children and all his family in this moment of pain".

Mr Costa Pereira was also a member of Brazil's Workers' Party.

He was being treated at the hospital in the town of Parauapebas in northern Brazil after he was shot and seriously injured at his home days earlier, according to a statement from the town's mayor, Darci Jose Lermen.

Mr Costa Pereira had been a member of the MST since 1996, participating in protests organised in favour of the redistribution of agricultural land.

Police said that an investigation into Monday's killing was underway, local media report (in Portuguese).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Landless Workers Movement stages demonstrations in support of Brazilian farmers

The MST supports labourers in disputes with landowners by staging protests and land invasions demanding better conditions for farmers.

Violent disputes over land are common in Brazil.

According to the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-governmental organisation in Brazil, 61 land rights activists were killed last year, the highest level since 2003.

Remote rural communities frequently complain to the authorities that Brazil's security forces are rarely present to intervene in rows between powerful land owners and landless farmers.

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