RIO DE JANIERO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Brazilian army and police officers have ramped up security in the northern town of Humaitá in the Amazon region after illegal gold miners set fire to the offices of government environmental watchdogs, officials said on Sunday.
The buildings of Brazil’s Environmental Protection Agency (Ibama) and the Chico Mendes Institute of Conservation of Biodiversity (ICMBio) in the northern Brazilian town of Humaitá were hit on Friday, according to the military police.
The attacks came after a crackdown on illegal mining operations with a government taskforce burning about 30 boats worth about $20,000 each in a prohibited area near a forest reserve on the Madeira River early Friday morning.
Ibama acts as an environmental monitoring group to protect Brazil’s natural resources while ICMBio is in charge of forest reserves. The attacks have raised concerns of further violence from illegal miners who often look for gold in protected areas or indigenous lands amid rising tensions over land ownership.
Military police official Rogens de Souza Morais said illegal miners – or “garimpeiros” as they are known – and up to 5,000 protesters took to the streets after the operation on Friday.