More than 2-thousand Brazilian troops were in the country''s Amazon region on Friday searching for the killers of an American nun, as protesters in two major cities demanded justice for the missionary''s death.
Dorothy Stang, a 73-year-old American nun, was shot dead on Saturday for her work defending the Amazon rain forest and its poor communities.
She had been in a dispute with a powerful rancher over a near-pristine swath of jungle near Anapu 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) north of Brasilia, the capital.
On Friday, protesters in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte demanded justice for Stang''s death.
Walame Fiado Machado, who is heading the federal police investigation, said he believed Stang''s killers are in the region around Anapu.
On Thursday Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched measures to combat increasing violence in the area, where at least three people have been murdered since Stang''s death.
The measures include placing nearly 51,500 square kilometres (19,900 square miles) of Amazon land under federal environmental protection.
The decrees signed by Silva form a reserve of 3.3 million hectares (8.2 million acres) and a national park spanning 450-thousand hectares (1.1 million acres) in Para.
A new national forest and conservation areas totalling 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) were also created in three other states in the Amazon.
Environment Minister Marina Silva said on Friday the government was planning on announcing the new protected areas on Monday, but Stang''s murder prompted the move of the announcement.
Officials say disputes among landowners and poor farmworkers who squat illegally on their land are among the main factors behind rising social tensions and crime in the area.
An association of squatters on Thursday closed a road to the capital of the Amazon state of Para to demand the government expropriate land for them.
The Amazon, which covers more than a half of Brazil, has for centuries been a source of pride and problems for the Brazilians.
According to the Pastoral Land Commission, a body of the Catholic Church, 30 land activists in Para State alone have received death threats.
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