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

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.