Nine rights activists killed in Guatemala in 2015

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina speaks during the swearing in ceremony of the new Defence Minister William Mancilla, in Guatemala City, August 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Johan Ordonez)

Guatemala City (AFP) - Nine human rights activists have been killed since the beginning of the year in Guatemala, mainly in indigenous communities opposed to infrastructure and mining projects, civil organizations said Friday.

The groups documented 337 attacks against human rights workers in a report that also showed intimidation against activists has increased under President Otto Perez, a retired general who came to power in 2012.

The report discusses attacks mainly against human rights activists, mostly in areas where indigenous communities have rejected mining and industrial projects that they say are damaging the environment.

"This makes even more urgent an effective and structured support strategy from the international community for these activists who operate in a climate of hostility and without state protection," said Karim Lahidji, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), one of the groups involved in the report.

The nine murders occurred amid increased violence in Guatemala, a country of 15.5 million people where some 6,000 killings occur each year, mainly by criminal gangs.

Two other groups, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) contributed to the FIDH report.