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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 12:04 GMT
Brazil farmers bury activist nun
Crowds of mourners follow the coffin of Sister Dorothy Stang, Brazil
Farmers flocked to the town to pay their respects
Thousands of Brazilian farmers gathered in the remote Amazonian town of Anapu to bury a murdered US nun who defended their right to land for two decades.

Dorothy Stang, a 74-year-old Catholic missionary, was gunned down by contract killers at a settlement on Saturday.

After an overnight vigil, families and friends followed her flag-draped coffin to the town's church.

Some held saplings to represent her battle against the loggers and ranchers who are encroaching on the rainforest.

"I feel like a river without water, a forest without trees. It's like losing a mother," Fernando Anjos da Silva told the Associated Press.


Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has launched an investigation into the case.

The government has promised to send 2,000 troops and air and police units for the region, which covers an area twice the size of France.

Arrest warrants have been issued for three men accused of her murder.

Map showing location of Anapu in Brazil
Her murder has led Brazil's government into action over the number of land-conflict related deaths in the Amazonian state of Para.

On Tuesday, the former head of a Rural Workers Union, Daniel Soares da Costa, was gunned down as he headed home.

It was the fourth death in the region in as many days.

Sister Dorothy died less than a week after meeting Brazilian officials to warn them about threats to local farmers from loggers and landowners.

She was a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, an international Catholic religious order, and had lived in Brazil for more than 30 years.

Based in Anapu, in Para state, she became known as an outspoken critic of ranchers and loggers trying to encroach on farmers' land.

She recently won an award from the Brazilian lawyers' association for her work. State authorities have named her woman of the year.

Thousands mourn 'the Angel of Trans-Amazon'

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