The leader of the Arhuaco people of northern Colombia survived an ambush in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, his administration said Monday.

Rogelio Mejia Izquierda was shot at but the bullet went through his hat and just scraped him, though the SUV in which he was riding was riddled with 40 bullet holes, the Arhuaco Reservation of the Sierra Nevada said in a communique.

The assassination attempt was perpetrated by a group of armed men on Nov. 8 near Puerto Bello, a town in Cesar province established against the will of the Arhuacos on their ancestral lands in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.

"Without having a clear idea at this time of the motives behind the murder attempt, we see it as a grave incident and yet another violation of our people's rights," the Arhuaco Reservation of the Sierra Nevada said.

The Arhuacos, some 9,000 to 14,000 people whose main occupation is farming, recalled that the murders 22 years ago of their leaders Luis Napoleon Torres, Hugues Chaparro and Angel Maria Torres by Colombian soldiers, which have gone unpunished to this day, were condemned by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The Arhuacos and other indigenous peoples who live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta - the Koguis, Kankuamos and Wiwas - have stood up to pressure from guerrillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers, as well as from settlers. EFE