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Watchdog Group Implicates Top Honduran Politicians in Killings of Activists

FILE - A woman places flowers on an altar set up in honor of Berta Caceres during a demonstration outside Honduras' embassy in Mexico City, June 15, 2016.

A London-based watchdog is accusing senior Honduran politicians and business leaders of leading a violent crackdown on indigenous and rural Hondurans who stand up against industrial theft of their land.

Global Witness said in a new report that Honduras is the world's deadliest country for those who defend the environment against big industry.

It says more than 120 people have been killed since 2010 for resisting mining companies, dam builders and agricultural giants. They include September's high-profile murder of environmentalist Berta Caceres.

Among those Global Witness implicates in the violence is Honduran ruling party president Gladis Aurora Lopez, whose husband allegedly controls a company planning to build the controversial Los Encinos dam.

"We have documented countless chilling attacks and threats, including the savage beating by soldiers of pregnant women, children held at gunpoint by police, arson attacks on villagers' homes, and hired assassins who still wander free among their victims' communities," Global Witness campaign leader Billy Kyte said.

He said the Honduran political and business elite use "corrupt and criminal means" to make big money from the country's wealth in natural resources.

Kyte says Honduras' biggest foreign aid donor, the United States, should do what it can to stop the bloodshed instead of "fueling insecurity across the country."

There has been no comment yet from the Honduran government.

While the former Obama administration condemned the Caceres murder and offered to help hunt down the killers, the new Trump administration has yet to publicly comment on U.S. policy toward Honduras.