By Abu Muhammad
At least 19 people were killed and 21 others injured after police in Madagascar opened fire on a mob in Ikongo, 350 kilometres from the capital Antananarivo,
Around 500 protesters armed with blades and machetes allegedly attempted to force their way into a police station, an officer speaking under the condition of anonymity told AFP.
The mob demanding four people suspected of kidnapping an albino child be handed over to them.
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-defence,” he said.
Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina expressed his condolences and said an investigation into the incident would be launched.
People with albinism, caused by a lack of melanin, are often kidnapped or attacked in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, where their body parts are sought for witchcraft practices.
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 intending to kill a murder suspect who was detained there. They overpowered guards, allowing 120 prisoners to break out of jail.
In the latest update, police say calm returned to Ikongo, on Tuesday, with additional officers deployed “in order to keep the peace”