Madagascar police shooting death toll at protest over albino kidnapping rises to 18


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Antananarivo (AFP) – Eighteen people died on Monday after police in Madagascar opened fire on what they called a lynching mob angry over the kidnapping of an albino child, a chief medical officer told AFP. .

Dozens were injured, some seriously.

“At the moment, 18 people have died in total, nine on site and nine in hospital,” said Dr Tango Oscar Toky, chief medical officer of a hospital in southeastern Madagascar.

“Of the 34 injured, nine are between life and death,” the doctor said, giving graphic details of the injuries. “We are waiting for a government helicopter to evacuate them to the capital.”

About 500 protesters armed with blades and machetes “tried to force their way” into the station, a police officer involved in the shooting said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“There were negotiations, (but) the villagers insisted,” the officer told AFP by phone from the town of Ikongo, 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast of the capital Antananarivo. .

Police first fired tear gas and then shells into the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd, he said.

“They continued to force their way through. We had no choice but to defend ourselves,” added the officer.

The national police in the capital confirmed the “very sad event”, but only made a balance sheet of 11, with 18 injured.

Andry Rakotondrazaka, the national police chief, told a press conference that what happened was “a very sad event. It could have been avoided but it happened”.

He said the police “did everything to avoid confrontation”, including negotiating with the crowd,

‘But there were provocations’…(and) there were people with ‘long-bladed knives and sticks’, he said, adding that others were throwing rocks at police .

“The gendarmes used tear gas. But that was not enough to stop the crowd from advancing. There were shots in the air.”

But in the end the gendarmes had “no other choice but to resort to self-defense… and to limit the damage by shooting”.

The kidnapping took place last week, according to Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa, MP for Ikongo district.

Revenge attacks

Revenge attacks are common in Madagascar.

In February 2017, a mob of 800 broke into Ikongo prison in search of a murder suspect they intended to kill.

They overpowered the guards and 120 prisoners escaped from prison.

In 2013, a Frenchman, a Franco-Italian and a resident accused of killing a child on the tourist island of Nosy Be were burned alive by a mob.

Some countries in sub-Saharan Africa have suffered a wave of attacks against people with albinism, whose body parts are sought for witchcraft practices in the mistaken belief that they bring good luck and wealth.

Albinism, caused by a lack of melanin, the pigment that colors the skin, hair and eyes, is a genetic disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people around the world, particularly in Africa.

Under The Same Sun, a Canadian-based charity that fights discrimination, has recorded cases of similar violence across Africa.

It ranks Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania as the countries where such attacks are most prevalent.

Madagascar, a large island country in the Indian Ocean, is ranked among the poorest in the world.

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