Madagascar – Police Say Officers Killed 19 in Albino Protest

Officers opened fire on the around 500 protesters, who were demanding four people suspected of kidnapping an albino child be handed over to them. Police say protesters were armed with “knives and sticks.”

Madagascar police said on Tuesday that officers killed 19 people and injured 21 after opening fire on a crowd of protesters that allegedly tried to storm a police station in the southeastern district of Ikongo on Monday.

Police said the group of around 500 protesters were carrying “weapons” and were demanding that four people suspected of kidnapping an albino child and killing the child’s mother be handed over to them.

Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina expressed his condolences and said that an investigation into the incident would be launched.

What did police say?

Police said officers did “everything to avoid a confrontation or violence,” initially firing tear gas to try to disperse the crowd.

“We could not do anything else but protect ourselves and the barracks,” national police chief Andry Rakotondrazaka said. Police had “no choice but to resort to self-defense,” he said.

The police chief said that some of the group were armed with “long-bladed knives and sticks” and others threw stones at police.

Rakotondrazaka said the wounded had been taken to hospital, and that some required surgery.

On Monday, soon after the incident, police had given a death toll of 11. A senior doctor later told the AFP news agency that 18 had died, nine at the scene and nine in hospital.

Attacks on people with albinism

People with albinism, which is caused by a lack of melanin, are , where the body parts of people who have the condition are sought for witchcraft practices.

UNICEF said in March that more than a dozen abductions and attacks on albinos in Madagascar had been reported over the past two years.

This is not the first time mob justice has targeted law enforcement institutions in the island nation. In February 2017, a mob of 800 people barged into Ikongo prison with the goal of killing a murder suspect who was detained there. They overpowered guards, allowing 120 prisoners to break out of jail.

(AP, AFP, dpa)

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