“The Malagasy army assumes all its responsibilities to come to the aid of the population and hunt down the thugs,” said President Andry Rajoelina. “We must find the perpetrators of this massacre and convict them according to the applicable law.”
According to police, 32 people were killed and three injured on Friday when a gang of about 12 bandits attacked the village of Ambolotarakely in the commune of Ankazobé, some 75 kilometers north of the capital. Army helicopters were deployed to locate the suspects and to help ground forces search the Ankazobé area.
Gathered in a house and burned
The attackers – ranchers known locally as Dahalos – rounded up the victims in three houses before setting them on fire, police said.
The village of Ambolotarakely is situated on a small hill and consists of a dozen houses with thatched roofs. TV recordings showed that the three houses had burned down completely and only parts of the walls were still standing.
Madagascar, an island in the Indian Ocean, is one of the poorest countries in the world with chronic insecurity problems, particularly cattle rustling. In February 2016, 12 thieves and one villager were killed in clashes between gendarmes, villagers and zebu thieves near the tourist area of Isalo in south-west Madagascar. This violence followed the theft of 400 zebus in a neighboring village by dozens of Dahalos armed with Kalashnikovs and hunting rifles.