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Venezuela finds bodies of four missing miners, continue search for 17 more

A banner with photos of several missing miners hangs on a tree near Tumeremo, Venezuela, March 8, 2016.

A banner with photos of several missing miners hangs on a tree near Tumeremo, Venezuela, March 8, 2016.  (ap)

Officials have recovered the remains of four people belonging to a group of over 20 missing miners believed to have been killed by a gang seeking control over a wildcat gold claim in southeastern Venezuela.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega said the remains were found Monday in an area of jungle in Bolivar state near where the miners went missing a week ago.

She said the search continues for the remaining 17 miners. Opposition politicians say as many as 28 miners are missing.

Ortega said she believes 21 people were killed by a criminal gang led by an Ecuadorean. But opposition politicians and relatives who say they witnessed the attack put the number at 28 and contend local officials were involved, a claim the government denies.

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