Cattle rustling in Madagascar, originally a cultural tradition in which young men proved their virility, has for several years turned into a bloody conflict.
Cattle rustlers have killed in Madagascar at least 32 people, by setting fire to houses in a village north of the capital Antananarivo, the Malagasy president promising Sunday that the culprits would be punished for this “massacre”.
We must find the perpetrators of this massacre and condemn them according to the law in force, said President Andry Rajoelina in a message. The Malagasy army takes all its responsibilities to come to the rescue of the population and track down the thugs, he added.
According to the police, 32 people were killed and three wounded during the attack of a band of about 12 bandits on the village of Ambolotarakely, in the commune of Ankazobé, about 75 kilometers north of the capital, Friday.
Army helicopters have been deployed to locate the suspects and help ground troops search the Ankazobé area, police said.
The attackers – cattle rustlers, known locally as dahalos – rounded up the victims inside three houses before setting them on fire, police said. The three injured were in intensive care at a local hospital.
Located on a small hill, the village of Ambolotarakely is made up of a dozen houses with thatched roofs. Television footage showed the three houses completely burnt down, with only parts of the walls still standing.
An island in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world with chronic problems of insecurity, including cattle rustling.
In February 2016, twelve thieves and a villager were killed during clashes between gendarmes, villagers and zebu thieves near the tourist area of Isalo, in southwestern Madagascar.
The violence followed the theft of 400 zebus from a nearby village by dozens of dahalos armed with Kalashnikovs and hunting rifles.
Cattle rustling in Madagascar, originally a cultural tradition in which young men proved their manhood, has turned into a bloody conflict for several years.