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3 forest rangers killed, 1 wounded by suspected illegal loggers in central Mexico

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Suspected illegal loggers shot and killed three forest rangers on patrol and wounded a fourth in central Mexico, near the slopes of the Iztaccihuatl volcano.

Police in the central state of Puebla, east of Mexico City, said late Sunday that the killings took place earlier in the day. The wounded man was being treated at a hospital, police said.

The four men were “carrying out the duties of forest rangers” when they were shot, police said. Because Mexico has no national forest service, farmers from local communal farms often take up patrolling to protect their communities’ forests, combat forest fires and logging.

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The attackers were “presumed to be illegal loggers,” according to a police statement, and a search was underway for them.

Loggers have long targeted the forested lower slopes of the Iztaccihuatl volcano, which is not far from the still-active Popocatépetl volcano.

Last year, Mexican researcher and environmentalist Álvaro Arvizu was hacked to death at an environmental educational center where he worked near Iztaccihuatl. Colleagues said the slaying appeared to be in retaliation for his work defending forests and water resources in the mountains that ring Mexico City.

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And earlier in 2023, Indigenous anti-logging activist Alfredo Cisneros was shot and killed in Purepecha Indigenous village of Sicuicho, in the violence-plagued western state of Michoacan.

Cisneros was a local leader and an anti-logging activist, and a member of the community land council. The Indigenous communities of Michoacan have fought for years against mining and illegal logging that target the pine and fir forests of the region. Loggers often clear-cut trees to plant avocados, a highly lucrative export crop in Michoacan.

In 2021, Mexico was named the deadliest country in the world for environmental and land defense activists in an annual report by Global Witness, a nongovernmental organization. Some 200 activists were killed around the world that year, with 54 of those killings in Mexico.

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