BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian authorities on Tuesday lowered the toll of people injured in a recent bloody clash between farmers and an indigenous tribe over land, and said no one had their hands cut off as reported earlier by a rights group.
The government of Maranhao state, where the violence occurred on Sunday, said seven people were taken to hospital and only three remain hospitalized, including a man who underwent surgery for exposed bone fractures in both arms.
“Not one had a hand cut off,” the government statement said, adding that police intervened as soon as the incident was reported and the circumstances are under investigation.
The Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) said on Monday that members of the Gamela tribe were leaving some land recently reclaimed from cattle ranchers when they were attacked by dozens of men armed with guns, knives and clubs.
The rights group said that no deaths were reported, but the injured included a man whose hands were hacked off and several with bullet wounds.
Violent confrontations between farmers and indigenous tribes claiming ancestral lands have become more intense in recent years as Brazil’s agricultural frontier has advanced further into the Amazon region.
Brazil’s federal indigenous affairs department, Funai, said separately it did not have enough resources after suffering a 44 percent cut in its budget this year.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the manpower to resolve the large number of land disputes we have,” Funai President Antonio Costa told reporters. “The land issue is not easy to settle.”
A spokeswoman for Funai said the agency would not take a position on the latest violence until it had investigated the facts, but the preliminary view was that it began when the ranchers attacked the indigenous tribe.
Reporting by Anthony Boadle