Madagascar: The army deployed after the killing of 32 people by cattle thieves

Madagascar: The army deployed after the killing of 32 people by cattle thieves

The attackers, known locally as Dahalos, rounded up the victims in three houses before setting them on fire.

Cattle thieves have killed at least 32 people in Madagascar by setting houses on fire in a village north of the capital Antananarivo. The Malagasy President promised on Sunday that those responsible for this “massacre” would be punished. “We must find the perpetrators of this massacre and bring the law to justice,” President Andry Rajoelina said in a statement. “The Malagasy army is taking all its responsibilities to come to the aid of the population and track down the thugs,” he added.

When a gang of about 12 bandits attacked the village of Ambolotarakely in the municipality of Ankazobé, about 75 kilometers north of the capital on Friday, 32 people were killed and three injured, according to the police.

Army helicopters were deployed to locate the suspects and to help ground forces search the Ankazobé area, police said. The attackers – ranchers known locally as Dahalos – rounded up the victims in three houses before setting them on fire, police said. The three injured were treated in intensive care at a local hospital.

Chronic insecurity problems

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. Cattle theft in Madagascar, originally a cultural tradition in which young men demonstrated their masculinity, has turned into a bloody conflict in recent years.

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