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  • Tolupan leader Jose De Los Santos Sevilla during an interview with local television

    Tolupan leader Jose De Los Santos Sevilla during an interview with local television | Photo: Twitter / @TN5Telenoticias

Jose de Los Santos Sevilla was a leader of the Tolupan Indigenous community and a teacher in the coastal city of La Ceiba.

On Friday the mayor of the Honduran coastal town of La Ceiba, Alexander Rodríguez, announced the assassination of the Tolupan Indigenous leader, Jose de Los Santos Sevilla.

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Sevilla, who was also a teacher, was attacked and in his home early Friday morning by five heavily armed men, according to local media.

Mayor Rodriguez said that while no motive or suspects have yet been identified, police have launched a full investigation.

The Tolupan are one of the nine major Indigenous groups in Honduras, making up almost 10 percent of the Central American country's population.

In response to the assassination, the National Commission on Human Rights in Honduras, CONADEH, issued a call for "immediate precautionary" measures for Indigenous leaders in the area.

"We have opened an official investigation and have already spoken with people linked to (Sevilla) and are in contact with the Indigenous community," said the Commissioner of CONADEH, Roberto Herrera Caceres in a statement.

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He also called on authorities investigate the recent rise in violence and threats in the nearby community of Yerba Buena, which has led to "forcible displacement" of families and many students unable to attend school.

The assassination of Sevilla in La Ceiba comes two weeks after police in that coastal city arrested a suspect in the murder of Lencan Indigenous leader and environmentalist Berta Caceres, who was killed in March of 2016 after years of threats over her successful campaign to stop a hydroelectric project on her traditional territory.

Just last year, a report found that Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for human rights and environmental activists, with targeted violence on the rise after a 2009 coup which led to the militarization of the Honduran state, and an increased dependence on foreign resource extraction corporations.

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