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Guard killed in Honduras land grab

Wednesday, September 19, 2012    

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AFP) — A man was reported killed yesterday in a violent takeover of a farm by landless peasants in a restive region of northern Honduras that has been the scene of deadly land disputes.

The corporation that owns the 1,621 acre (656 hectare) Camarones farm in the Aguan Valley blamed peasants for the death of a guard.

"The peasants took over the Camarones farm in the early morning," said Roger Pineda, a spokesman for the Corporacion Dinant. "They arrived shooting and they killed a guard, Maurice Joel Fuentes."

Pineda said a force of more than 1,000 police and soldiers subsequently evicted the peasants without further incident.

A series of armed confrontations between peasants and owners of extensive African palm plantations in the Aguan Valley have claimed the lives of 82 people since 2010, according to tallies from both sides.

The peasants say 66 of their followers have been killed, while landowners say 15 guards and a farm administrator have lost their lives in the conflict.

Since August 16, police and army troops have been enforcing a ban on weapons in the region, but the violence has continued with no apparent let up.

While African palm is the coveted cash crop fuelling the land disputes, the region also has been used as a transit point by drug traffickers.

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