* Tribe says village of 80 attacked from a helicopter
* Government unable to confirm attack or possible death toll
* Prospectors, other outsiders often clash with Amazon
CARACAS, Aug 29 Venezuela's public prosecutor on
Wednesday said it is investigating an alleged massacre of
indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, after a tribal group
told the government that a village of 80 natives was attacked in
July from a helicopter.
In a statement, the government said it had received word of
the alleged attack by a group representing the Yanomami tribe,
an indigenous people native to southern Venezuela.
The area, along the country's long, remote border with
Brazil, has a history of violent clashes between natives, gold
prospectors, and other would-be developers in the region.
A spokeswoman at the public prosecutor's office said the
government could not yet confirm the attack nor how many people
may have been killed.
Fellow Yanomami and an international native rights group,
however, said only three people, from the village of 80, are
known to be alive.
Luis Shatiwe, a leader of the Yanomami group, told a
Venezuelan newspaper that the survivors were hunters who had
been out of the village at the time of the alleged attack. The
hunters, he added, heard a helicopter and gunfire and said a
communal hut in the village was destroyed by fire.
Survival International, a London-based organization that
seeks to protect native peoples, said in a statement that
another Yanomami told the group that tribespeople had found
bones and charred bodies in the village.
The group and the government both said that word of the
alleged massacre is just emerging because of the remote location
of the village, a five-hour helicopter flight, or a five-day
walk, from Puerto Ayacucho, the capital city of the southern
state of Amazonas.
Like other Amazon tribes, the Yanomami in recent decades
have struggled with efforts by outsiders to tap jungle resources
or otherwise develop the rainforest. Often, the conflicting
interests result in violence, though much of it goes unreported
because of the scale and remoteness of most of the Amazon.
In 1993, 16 Yanomami villagers were killed in Brazil during
an attack by miners. Brazil eventually convicted several of the