At least 11 dead in Madagascar after gendarmes fire on a crowd

An incident has tragically degenerated in Madagascar. At least eleven people were killed Monday after gendarmes, who invoked self-defense, opened fire in a barracks on angry residents, around a dark case of kidnapping of an albino child.

The toll of the drama, which took place in the small town of Ikongo in the southeast of the island, about 350 km from the capital Antananarivo, has not yet been definitively established. A doctor at the local hospital where victims were taken counted 18 dead – including 9 who died at the health facility – and 34 injured. “Nine are between life and death,” said Dr. Tango Oscar Toky. The gendarmes presented a lower balance sheet of 11 dead and 18 wounded.

The tension has been rising for a week

In the morning, shots rang out in Ikongo, a locality immersed in the green mountains of the big island in the Indian Ocean. Since last week, the town has been in shock: a child, albino, has disappeared and the authorities suspect a kidnapping. In the country, people with albinism are regularly the target of violence often because of certain beliefs.

Four suspects were arrested by the gendarmes after the disappearance of the child and placed in detention in the barracks of Ikongo. But the locals decided to take the law into their own hands. They went to the gendarmerie barracks on Monday and demanded that the four suspects be handed over to them. According to a source from the gendarmerie present on the spot, at least 500 people disembarked, some armed with “bladed weapons” and “machetes”.

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Of “self-defense” according to the gendarmes

A security perimeter was installed, the gendarmes tried to speak to the inhabitants to reason with them and to “avoid a bloodbath”, detailed Commander Andry Rakotondrazaka. He then spoke of “provocations”, people armed with “long-bladed knives and sticks”, as well as throwing stones. When the crowd tried to breach the security perimeter, things got out of hand. The gendarmes used tear gas and fired warning shots. “But, as a last resort, the gendarmes had no choice but to resort to self-defense,” explained the commander. “It’s a very sad event and we could have avoided it, but what happened happened.”

They “fired on the crowd”, for his part was indignant Jean Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa, deputy for the district. He therefore announced his intention to request a parliamentary inquiry. The Malagasy police are also regularly singled out by civil society for human rights violations, which are rarely prosecuted.

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