March 15, 2016 / 5:08 PM / a year ago

Seventeen corpses found after Venezuela miners' massacre

CARACAS (Reuters) - Seventeen corpses have been recovered from a mass grave in the rising toll from a massacre of miners in Venezuela's southern jungle, authorities said on Tuesday.

Venezuelan officials say 21 miners went missing near a gold mine in the Tumeremo area of Bolivar state, while opposition politicians say as many as 28 may have been killed.

"We have concluded the search for the disappeared of Tumeremo with the discovery of 17 bodies," chief state prosecutor Luisa Ortega said via Twitter, updating the count of 14 announced on Monday.

The massacre took place near Tumeremo, in Bolivar state, on March 4, with some witnesses cited by local media, relatives and politicians as saying a gang shot the miners and cut some up with a chain saw.

"The families tell me there are 20 corpses (recovered)," said opposition lawmaker Americo De Grazia, from Bolivar, who is leading a National Assembly probe into the case.

Fights for control of illegal mines are common in the remote, mineral-rich area near the borders of Guyana and Brazil. Authorities have arrested one woman accused of helping mastermind the killings.

Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Corina Pons Editing by W Simon

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