A British religious activist who faced expulsion from Peru a decade ago for his work on behalf of indigenous communities has been found dead at a youth hostel he ran in the Amazon rain forest.

Paul McAuley, 71, had long worked to embolden Peru's historically discriminated tribes in the battle against powerful oil and mining interests.

In 2010, the government tried unsuccessful to strip him of his residency for allegedly inciting unrest after he fought attempts to open up the Amazon to drilling.

The La Salle Christian Brothers said in a statement Tuesday that the lay activist had been burned to death.

Authorities are questioning six indigenous youth who lived in the hostel he managed in a poor section of the city of Iquitos.