World

Police, officials meet with widows of slain Peruvian foes of illegal logging

ADDS EXACT DATE AND NAME OF COMMUNITY - This Nov. 26, 2005 photo, released by Emory Richey, shows Edwin Chota attending a meeting on land titles and illegal logging in the Chambira community, an Ashaninka indigenous village along the Tamaya River in Peru. Chota, an outspoken opponent of illegal logging, and three other native Ashaninka community leaders, were shot and killed in Peru's remote region bordering Brazil where they live, villagers and authorities said Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Chota had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers, who he had tried for years to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title. (AP Photo/Emory Richey)

ADDS EXACT DATE AND NAME OF COMMUNITY - This Nov. 26, 2005 photo, released by Emory Richey, shows Edwin Chota attending a meeting on land titles and illegal logging in the Chambira community, an Ashaninka indigenous village along the Tamaya River in Peru. Chota, an outspoken opponent of illegal logging, and three other native Ashaninka community leaders, were shot and killed in Peru's remote region bordering Brazil where they live, villagers and authorities said Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Chota had received frequent death threats from illegal loggers, who he had tried for years to expel from the lands for which his community was seeking title. (AP Photo/Emory Richey)  (The Associated Press)

Peruvian police investigators and a deputy minister have met with widows of four slain indigenous leaders who had resisted a steady onslaught by illegal loggers in their remote Amazon jungle homeland.

The Ashaninka community's slain leader, Edwin Chota, had for years led efforts to obtain titles to its traditional lands near Brazil's border. He constantly confronted the loggers who strip the region's river basins of prized hardwoods.

Tribal authorities say they suspected illegal loggers in the killings, and described an intensified climate of fear.

Peru's deputy minister of intercultural affairs, Patricia Balbuena, told The Associated Press on Tuesday from Pucallpa, the Ucayali state regional capital, after meeting with the widows that she was organizing helicopter transport to the region on Wednesday so police could investigate and retrieve the bodies.