- Madagascar - unrest
Cattle thieves killed by Madagascar villagers
Villagers in Madagascar killed almost 100 zebu thieves in separate attacks across the south of the island, officials said Monday. Authorities have deployed security forces in the region to prevent reprisal attacks, as cattle theft continues to grow.
AFP - Villagers in Madagascar have killed nearly 100 cattle thieves in a wave of weekend attacks in southern areas of the Indian Ocean island plagued by rustling, officials said Monday.
Lieutenant Colonel Tahina Rakotomalala of Madagascar's gendarmerie, or paramilitary police, told AFP 23 cattle rustlers were killed overnight in an ambush by villagers armed with rocks, spears and firearms.
He had earlier said another 67 rustlers were killed on Friday night.
The authorities had also said that nine people -- two gendarmes, one policeman and six other thieves -- were killed Sunday in the southern Ihaborano region of the island.
The violence took place around a cluster of villages in the same region.
Authorities have stepped up security in the area to prevent any reprisal attacks by the thieves, who are known as dahalos.
"Security forces have been dispatched to deal with a possible revenge (attack) by the dahalos," Rakotomalala, head of operations of the country's gendarmerie, told AFP.
Twelve villagers were also injured in the attacks and 98 out of 100 stolen zebus, the local breed of cattle, were recovered, Rakotomalala said.
Theft of the humped cattle -- a prized breed in parts of southern Madagascar -- has surged and grown more violent in recent years.
In June, security forces were deployed in the forests of southwestern Madagascar to crack down on hundreds of armed cattle rustlers. Several deaths of policemen and thieves were reported and around 100 thieves were arrested.
On June 9, the government suspended zebu exports to put a squeeze on rustlers, who are believed to enjoy support from corrupt officials to sell their livestock in the capital.