The French director of an NGO in Guatemala was killed Monday in an armed attack in the northeast of the country, a human rights organization said.
Benoit Maria was the director of the agriculture and animal health NGO Agronomes et Veterinaires Sans Frontieres (AVSF).
“We denounce the murder of human rights defender Benoit Maria,” tweeted the Guatemalan Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA), calling for a public investigation.
According to local media, Maria was driving a van on a road near the indigenous village of San Antonio Ilotenango, 85 kilometers (53 miles) northwest of the capital Guatemala City, when he was shot dead.
The motive for the attack is not yet known.
According to UDEFEGUA coordinator Jorge Santos, Maria was the AVSF head and had been living in Guatemala for more than 20 years, supporting agricultural projects for the indigenous Mayan Ixil communities.
Maria had also participated in the 2011 creation of Ixil University, in the department of Quiche, dedicated to the ancestral knowledge of indigenous people.