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Maya women's rights activist murdered in Guatemala

Indigenous women burn incense over urns with the remains of victims from Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war after they arrived in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango department, west of Guatemala City
Indigenous women burn incense over urns with the remains of victims from Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war after they arrived in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango department, west of Guatemala City Indigenous women burn incense over urns with the remains of victims from Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war after they arrived in San Juan Comalapa, Chimaltenango department, west of Guatemala City AFP/File
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Guatemala City (AFP)

An ethnic Maya woman who advocated for the rights of indigenous people was gunned down by unknown assailants in western Guatemala, her support network and local media said Saturday.

Juana Ramirez Santiago was murdered late Friday in a village near the town of Nebaj, 105 kilometers (65 miles) northeast of Guatemala City, the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala said in a statement.

Ramirez had received death threats for her work supporting female victims of violence in western Guatemala, the statement read.

The region is one of areas hardest hit during the 1960-1996 civil war, which included instances of ethnic cleansing against Maya natives.

Ramirez was a local leader with the Network of Ixil Women in the area, the statement said.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala condemned the murder, expressing "solidarity" with her friends and relatives and "trust in the investigations" by local prosecutors.

At least eight farm worker and indigenous rights activists have been murdered in Guatemala since May.

Most of those slain were leaders of a peasant association opposed to the policies of President Jimmy Morales, accused of corruption surrounding his 2015 election campaign.

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