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Brazil revokes Amazon logging permits after deaths
by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) June 30, 2011

The Brazilian government on Thursday shut down 12 logging operations in a part of the Amazon rainforest where activists who reported illegal logging were murdered in recent months.

"With a vast record of illegal activity against the environment, (the operations) have had their licenses revoked," said the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), adding that all machinery used by the loggers must be removed from the area of Para state.

In May, a pair of environmental activists were killed in the state in a slaying friends and colleagues of the couple believe powerful land barons contracted, because of their denunciations of illegal logging.

Since their killing, three other residents have been murdered in the state, which is the epicenter of violent land disputes pitting loggers and ranchers against environmentalists and poor residents.

A fourth was murdered in Rondonia, another Amazon state.

The wave of murders in the Amazon came as Brazil's lower house in congress approved a bill changing the forestry law that would weaken preservation protections in favor of encouraging farm activities.

The Senate is still to vote on the text.

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