January 18, 2002

Settlers killed in clash with Peru tribe

                 LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- As many as 35 people were killed when scores of
                 indigenous people used arrows and shotguns to evict nonnative settlers from
                 an isolated area of Peru's northern jungle, officials said on Friday.

                 "Yesterday at 4 a.m. (0900 GMT), between 200 and 300 natives attacked the
                 settlers with machetes, arrows and shotguns," Zelin Gonzalez, governor of the
                 village of San Ignacio, near the border with Ecuador, told Reuters.

                 "They are talking about between 25 and 35 people killed, including men, women
                 and children, and many disappeared," he said, adding that officials were now
                 working to treat the injured and locate those missing after the bloody clash.

                 Newspapers said the semi-nomadic Aguaruna indigenous tribe used poison-tipped
                 darts to eject the squatters from the northern reaches of Cajamarca province, about
                 480 miles (800 kms) north of Lima.

                 Exact details were not yet known because of the remoteness of the area -- a
                 10-hour journey, most of it on foot, from San Ignacio, the nearest village of any

                 Interior Ministry officials said most of those who were killed were settlers in the
                 vast jungle region near the poor Andean nation's border with Ecuador.

                 Gonzalez said the violence was rooted in a long-standing feud over land rights.
                 "This is a coffee-growing region, so that's why the settlers, entire families, don't
                 want to leave," he added.

                 He said that after a series of judicial maneuvers designed to evict the settlers, courts
                 last week ruled in favor of the Aguaruna. But the settlers were soon back,
                 prompting the tribe to attack, the governor said.

                 "The natives ambushed them," one Interior Ministry official said. He said police had
                 set off for the zone, but had not yet reported back with more details on the conflict.

                  Copyright 2002 Reuters