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Colleague of Slain Honduran Activist Caceres Killed

FILE - Honduras' largest tribe, the Lenca Indians, battles a proposed hydroelectric dam, Oct. 21, 2006. Lesbia Yaneth Urquia, who also fought the dam, killed by unidentified men, authorities said Thursday.

A colleague of slain Honduran activist Berta Caceres, known for her fight against the encroachment of hydroelectric dams and mines on indigenous lands, was killed by unidentified men in the western part of the country, authorities said Thursday.

Lesbia Yaneth Urquia, 49, was found dead by a road in the semi-rural town of Marcala, 100 kilometers west of the capital, Honduran security ministry spokesman Luis Osabas said by phone.

She had been missing since Tuesday when she left home on a bicycle, he added.

Since 2009, Urquia has been a member of the Consejo de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras (COPINH), an indigenous rights organization whose award-winning leader, Berta Caceres, was killed in March. Another member, Nelson Garcia, was shot dead a few weeks later.

Honduran police have arrested five people for Caceres' murder, including a representative of a hydroelectric dam whose construction faced local opposition.

Urquia fought against the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the La Paz region, COPINH said in a statement, adding that the dam is owned by the husband of Congressional Vice President Gladys Lopez.

COPINH said that it held Lopez, her husband and the government responsible for the murder of Urquia.

Lopez and her husband could not be reached for comment.

The murder is being investigated as a family property dispute and as an extortion case, as Urquia was the owner of two hotels and a small market, said Eddie Lopez, a police sub-inspector based in Marcala. Urquia had reported extortion, he added.

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world.