Madagascar nabs 19 after lynchings

AFP-JIJI

Police in Madagascar made five more arrests Saturday on the tourist island of Nosy Be after a raging mob lynched and burned two Europeans and a local man they accused of killing a boy.

Authorities on the idyllic Indian Ocean island have now arrested 19 people in all, having taken 14 others into custody on Friday and vowing to arrest anyone involved in the lynchings and riots as well as anyone who filmed or photographed the killings.

The gory rampage was sparked by the death of an 8-year-old boy whose body was found on the popular Ambatoloaka beach a week after he went missing.

“His body was wet when it was found. So it’s possible he drowned,” said Vincent Laza, a neighborhood leader, adding that the boy’s genitals were missing and his intestines were exposed.

By Wednesday, reports had begun to circulate that the boy had been kidnapped, causing a mob to storm the gendarme station, convinced that one of the boy’s killers was being held there. Officers opened fire and two people were killed.

Amid rumors that foreigners were involved, a mob of hundreds got their hands on a Frenchman and a Franco-Italian on Thursday and torched them on Ambatoloaka, a popular beach. A local man who was the boy’s uncle was later also killed and burned.

One resident claimed the crowd had made sure the Europeans were guilty. “They spoke for a long time until the morning hours, and then the foreigners confessed they had killed the child. We have it on video,” said Lala, who lives in the Dar-es-Salam suburb where the local man was killed.

However, in one audio recording, one of the victims was heard declaring his innocence as the crowd accused him of being a pedophile and killer.