Gold miners in Brazil have killed 10 members of an indigenous tribe which has never been contacted before, the New York Times reports. The massacre allegedly took place in Javari Valley Indigenous Reserve in western Brazil after the tribe members ran into the miners while collecting eggs along the Amazon river.

Killers bragged about cutting up bodies

According to The Week UK, government prosecutors are investigating the atrocity, which was brought to their attention by FUNAI, a government agency dedicated to the protection of indigenous people. The agency said that the miners were heard boasting about mutilating the bodies of the victims and showing off a hand-carved paddle which the agency believes belonged to the members of the tribe.

The investigation of the case will be a difficult task and may take some time, as the area of the territory is very large and access is limited. According to a report by Fox News, the Javari reserve is half as large as Florida and is believed to be home to at least fourteen uncontacted tribes with an estimated total population of 2000 individuals.

Almost fifth of the tribe feared murdered

According to Survival International, an international organization committed to protecting the rights of tribal people, if the incident is confirmed, almost a fifth of the whole tribe has been wiped out.

This is not the first time that such an incident took place in Brazil. In 2011, an entire tribe was feared to be massacred, as FUNAI was unable to locate a tribe after armed drug dealers attacked one of their outposts.

One man, an alleged cocaine trafficker, was arrested.

Government under fire

The Brazilian government has lately been criticized for cutting funds to FUNAI, forcing the agency to close regional offices and lay off staff. In May, the head of FUNAI, Antonio Fernandes Toninho Costa was fired, just a few days after he spoke against government’s decision to slash funding by more than forty percent.

Meanwhile, violence against indigenous people has increased. There had been at least 8 reported cases of killings aimed at native groups since June 2015. The most recent one to make international headlines was reported by the Guardian and involved an attack on 13 members of the Gamela tribe in the state of Maranhão four months ago. Several members suffered gunshot wounds, stabbings, and amputations.

As the indigenous tribes face several threats from the outside, the fear of these populations becoming extinct grows day by day.