The killers came from the forest, the very same forest Raimundo Santos Rodrigues so loved.

The environmentalist had spent years defending one of the last pristine swathes of the eastern Amazon rain forest from loggers, miners and farmers. But his activism had earned him enemies in Brazil’s northern state of Maranhão.

And on Tuesday afternoon, those enemies pounced.

Santos Rodrigues and his wife were riding their motorbike from the market back to the Biological Reserve of Gurupi when two men suddenly emerged from the treeline, witnesses told local media. As the couple crossed a bridge, the gunmen opened fire, hitting both the environmentalist and his wife.

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