- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (AP) - A French aid worker was shot to death on a rural highway in Guatemala, where he had led agricultural projects for indigenous Mayan communities for 20 years.

French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the killing of Benoit Pierre Amadee Maria, who represented Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders, saying in a tweet Tuesday that his “humanistic, fraternal commitment pays honor to France.” The killing Monday came the day after six French aid workers were killed in a giraffe park in the West African country of Niger.

Guatemalan Vice President Guillermo Castillo called for clarity on what happened, saying in a statement that “Amadee Maria dedicated a large part of his life to promoting community development in favor of vulnerable populations.”

Amadee Maria was killed Monday afternoon on a rural road in the village of Pacam, the National Civil Police said in a statement. He was traveling in a van when he was attacked by unknown individuals who shot him several times, it said. Two police teams in the area are investigating the case, police spokesman Edwin Monroy told The Associated Press.

The European Union, which provided some funding to Agronomists and Veterinarians Without Borders, also joined in mourning the death.

In a July 2019 report, the U.S. organization Global Witness ranked Guatemala as No. 5 in a list of countries with the most killings of land defenders and activists.

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