Three Yukpa Indians were murdered in Zulia, a state in northwestern Venezuela on the border with Colombia, in an incident apparently linked to a land dispute, a non-governmental organization said.

The Indians were killed last Friday by three masked gunmen who broke into a dwelling in a rural area outside the city of Machiques de Perija, Sociedad Homo et Natura coordinator Lusbi Portillo told Efe.

The gunmen forced the Indians out of the dwelling and shot them, Portillo said.

The victims were brothers Alexander and Jose Luis Fernandez, who also belonged to the Wayuu tribe, and Leonel Romero, Portillo said.

"The framework for that conflict has to do with land ownership," Portillo said, adding that the victims were buried on Sunday.

A police spokesman in the area confirmed the killings but refused to provide any details about the case.

Media reports said one of the victims had been accused of murder, but Portillo declined to confirm the reports.

Some 13,000 Indians belong to the Yukpa tribe, Portillo said. EFE