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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 May, 2005, 01:46 GMT 02:46 UK
Brazilian Indians free policemen
Macuxi tribesmen guarding police hostages
The hostage takers oppose the creation of the reservation
Amazon Indians in Brazil have freed four police officers they held hostage in protest at the creation of a huge indigenous reservation.

They were kidnapped last week by Macuxi tribesmen in the northern state of Roraima, who fear the new reserve will leave them without jobs.

The officers' release was secured after the government agreed to improve the Indian's living conditions.

The Raposa Serra Do Sol reserve covers 17,000 sq km (6,500 sq miles).

Called "the land of the fox and mountain of the sun" by the 12,000 the mainly Macuxi and other tribes who live there, it is the size of a small country.

Its creation follows 30 years of campaigns by the Indians, which led to bitter conflicts with settlers and farmers.

But a minority of Macuxi fear they would be left jobless once the reservation is established and non-Indian employers, principally rice producers, are forced to leave the area.

The policemen were seized on 22 April from a village near the city of Boavista after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva approved the creation of the reserve.

The hostage-takers demanded that the president revoke the decree.

But they released the officers after accepting a government undertaking to improve living conditions for the tribes in the reserve, including access to schools and electricity.

"The police have just been freed and are all well," federal police superintendent Francisco Mallman told news agency AFP.


SEE ALSO:
Brazil authorises Indian reserve
15 Apr 05 |  Americas
Amazon protesters release priests
09 Jan 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Brazil
11 Mar 05 |  Country profiles


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