At least four illegal gold miners died in a clash with police in northern Brazil’s state of Roraima, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change confirmed Monday.
The incident occurred Sunday night as inspectors from the Federal Highway Police and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources patrolled the area in an operation against illegal mining, said the ministry.
Officers later seized weapons and ammunition at the site of the clash.
These types of operations have been taking place since Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva declared an emergency in Yanomami territory due to illegal mining, which threatens the survival of the indigenous group.
Some 20,000 gold miners ignore the ban on mining in the area, polluting rivers with mercury and even killing locals that get in their way.