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Horror in Hell-Ville: mob burns European tourists alive

October 8, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59European countries have warned their citizens to stay indoors or flee after a rampaging lynch-mob seized two European tourists, tortured them and burned them to death in the town of Hell-Ville in Madagascar.

The mob suspected the tourists (both men) of having trafficked the organs of a missing child for witchcraft rituals – but the accusations may have been the result of mass hysteria.

A local man suspected of involvement in the witchcraft abduction was lynched shortly after the Europeans were killed on Nosy Be, Madagascar’s largest and busiest tourist resort. Nosy Be (an island in Madagascar’s north-west) means “big island” in the Malagasy language. Hell-Ville is the capital and main town there.

“Rioters launched a manhunt and killed the Europeans” in the early hours of Thursday morning, the deputy commander of the paramilitary police, Gen Guy Randriamaro Bobin, told the AFP news agency.

He said an eight-year-old boy’s body was found last week, without genitals and without a tongue. Reports said at least one other person was killed in subsequent violence that erupted outside the Hell-Ville police station.

Later reports said the missing boy’s body was wet when it was found and he may have drowned. But rumours that he had been kidnapped, and tales that foreigners were involved, roused the lynch-mob to action.

France has confirmed that a French national was among the dead. Italian news agency ANSA said an Italian with both Italian and French passports was also killed.

After the mob’s action was reported, foreign governments were quick to warn their citizens. The US, France and some other countries advised their nationals to avoid travel to the tourist island. Australia did not issue any official alert and by 7am this morning (Tuesday), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) was continuing just to warn Aussie travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution in Madagascar at this time due to the unpredictable political situation”, a warning it issued in September. Not many Australians visit Madagascar.

Madagascar Police have so far arrested 19 people in connection with the case. They are vowing to arrest anyone involved in the lynchings and riots, along with anyone who filmed or photographed the killings. Britain’s Daily Mail published photos of a mob standing around a blazing fire and taking photos on mobile phones.

Heavily armed security forces have been deployed in Hell-Ville to enforce a 9pm-4am curfew.

Noisy Be is Madagascar’s main tourist magnet but the BBC reports the island is also known for sex tourism.

Locals insist the lynchings will not affect tourism, AFP reported – possibly a case of wishful thinking.

Allegations of sorcery and witchcraft, along with witchcraft-related killings, surface from time to time in Madagascar, as in much of the rest of Africa. Accused witches are occasionally burned alive.

Last year, Swaziland, where albino children are sometimes sacrificed for use in magic potions, startled the world by passing a statute which reportedly forbids witches from flying higher than 150 metres in the air.

Written by Peter Needham

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