Peru Environmentalist who Fought for Amazon Shot Dead in River Attack

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Quinto Inuma, who had faced threats over his efforts to protect the Amazon against illegal deforestation, was shot dead in an area of the Peruvian rainforest that has seen high tensions between Indigenous people and illegal loggers.

A Peruvian environmental activist has been shot dead in an area of the Amazon rainforest that has seen frequent clashes between Indigenous people and illegal loggers.

Quinto Inuma, a leader of the Kichwa community, was killed in a remote part of the northern region of San Martin.

His son, Kevin Arnol Inuma Mandruma, told The Associated Press that Alvarado was ambushed on Wednesday in the San Martín region of the Amazon while returning from presenting at a workshop for women environmental campaigners.

“He was travelling in a boat,” when assailants blocked the river with a tree trunk before firing multiple shots, Mandruma said.

He said the boat was carrying six people, including his mother, brother, sister, and uncles, and that Inuma was shot three times in the back and once in the head. Mandruma said his aunt was also wounded in the attack.

Mandruma, who was not on the trip, said his brother and mother recounted the attack to him.

The Peruvian government expressed “deep regret” over Inuma’s death in a statement, describing the attack as “cowardly”.

“We deeply regret the death of Quinto Inuma Alvarado... as a consequence of a cowardly attack of which he was victim in the afternoon of Wednesday, 29 November,” said a joint statement from Peru’s environment, interior, justice, and culture ministries.

The national police are investigating the matter, the statement said, adding a search for suspects was underway. “We will continue working hard against the illegal activities that destroy our forests and ecosystems and threaten the lives and integrity of all Peruvians.”

The Mission in Peru of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the killing and called on authorities to carry out a prompt investigation.

Inuma had faced threats over his efforts to protect the Amazon against illegal deforestation.

The loggers “told him they were going to kill him because he had made a report,” his son said. “They’ve tried to kill him several times, with beatings and now gunfire.”

Peruvian Indigenous rights news service Servindi wrote in 2021 that Inuma’s community had been left to combat illegal loggers alone, suffering frequent attacks “that could take their lives any day.”

The workshop Inuma had been attending was aimed at helping Kichwa’s women leaders exchange knowledge on how to better protect their land.

Peru’s national human rights centre says at least 30 environmental activists and community leaders have been killed since 2020, and local environmental organisations say the government does not do enough to protect local communities.