Gunmen executed a chief of the Kaiowa-Guarani Indian tribe in western Brazil and disappeared with his body Friday, according to Funai, the country's federal indigenous affairs agency.
Funai spokesman Bruno Perez said in an emailed statement that more than 40 "hooded and heavily armed" gunmen raided the Tekoha Guaiviry village in Mato Grosso do Sul state and fatally shot chief Nisio Gomes.
He said the gunmen fled into the surrounding jungle in two pickup trucks with Gomes' body.
Simone Fernandes, a Funai spokeswoman, said it appeared the gunmen were hired by local ranchers seeking to intimidate and expel the tribe from land that both sides claim as their own.
The Roman Catholic Church-backed Indian Missionary Council said Gomes was shot several times in the head, chest, legs and arms.
He was "summarily executed in front of his son," said Renato Santana, a spokesman for the council.
Santana said witnesses reported that the gunmen also kidnapped two youths and one child.
He said 60 members of Gomes' tribe had occupied a large piece of land on Nov. 1 located between two ranches near Brazil's frontier with Paraguay.
He said the land is part of traditional Indian territory but didn't know the size of the area occupied by Gomes' group.
"Everything indicates that ranchers, who want the land to raise cattle and plant sugarcane, hired the gunmen to get rid of Gomes, who was an outspoken defender of Indian rights," Santana said.