One of the world's last uncontacted tribes has gone missing after drug traffickers overran Brazilian guards posted to protect its lands.
No trace of the Indian tribe has been found after heavily armed men destroyed a guard post in western Brazil around 32 miles from the Peruvian border.
Workers from FUNAI, the government bureau of Indian affairs, found a broken arrow in one of the men's backpacks, raising fears for the tribe's safety.Carlos Travassos, head of the government's isolated Indians department, said: 'We think the Peruvians made the Indians flee. Now we have good proof. We are more worried than ever.'
The tribe made headlines earlier this year after they were pictured from a helicopter, daubed in red paint, standing among their huts in the dense rainforest.
Their compound included thatched dwellings and gardens full of manioc tubers and papaya, as well as covered stores for fruit and meat.
Like other uncontacted tribes, they live a traditional life in the forest and do not have any contact with the outside world.
As many as 2,000 Indians may live in the Juvari Valley, in the western Amazon, according to estimates.
On 5 August 5 Brazilian federal police launched an operation in the region, arresting Joaquim Antônio Custódio Fadista, a Portuguese man alleged to have been operating as a cocaine trafficker.
But after the police pulled out, officers with the indigenous protection service (Funai) decided to return fearing a "massacre". They claimed that groups of men with rifles and machine guns were still at large in the rainforest. Reports suggest the traffickers may have been attempting to set up new smuggling routes, running through the tribe's land. [...]
In an interview with the Globo Natureza website, the Funai co-ordinator for isolated groups, Antenor Vaz, said: "Either these guys have killed the isolated Indians or they have had contact with them. We know that these Indians defend themselves by attacking."
Facing mounting pressure Funai's president, Márcio Meira, is on Tuesday expected to fly into a jungle position used to monitor the wellbeing of the area's indigenous people. The post is located around 23km (14 miles) from the Peruvian border and 240km [149 miles] from the already remote town of Feijo in Acre state.