Madagascar wanted gang that killed 32 people in burning houses

Authorities in Madagascar on Sunday were looking for a gang of cattle rustlers who killed at least 32 people by setting fire to houses in a village north of Antananarivo.

Army helicopters have been deployed to locate suspects and assist ground troops searching the Ankazobe area about 75km north of the capital, the defense ministry said in a Facebook statement.

“The perpetrators must be found and punished according to the law,” the President said. Andri Razuelina reads a statement posted on a social media site, calling the killings a “massacre.”

“The Malagasy army is responsible for rescuing the local population and hunting down criminals.”

Police said 32 people were killed and three injured in an attack by a gang of 12 bandits on the village of Ambolotharakeli in Ankazob on Friday.

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The attackers, cattle rustlers known locally as dahalos, surrounded the victims in three houses and set them on fire, police said. Three of the wounded are in intensive care at a local hospital.

The village of Ambolotharakeli, perched on a small hill, consists of about a dozen thatched-roof houses.

Television footage from the scene showed that three houses were completely burned down, with only parts of the walls remaining.

Police said the perpetrators likely lived in nearby areas.

“The army will do its best to arrest those responsible for this massacre as soon as possible,” Defense Minister Richard Rakotonirina told local media during a visit to Ambolotharakeli on Saturday.