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The police in Madagascar on Tuesday confirmed that officers left no fewer than 19 people and injured 21 others after opening fire on what was described as a lynch mob angered over the abduction of an albino child.
In a statement on Wednesday, the national police said ‘Nineteen people lost their lives and 21 are injured and are still being treated’ at Ikongo hospital in the country’s southeast.
The hospital’s chief physician, Tango Oscar Toky, confirmed the death toll while speaking to newsmen.
A previous report from police on Monday said 11 people had died.
Around 500 protesters armed with blades and machetes attempted to force their way into a police station, a police officer involved in the shooting told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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Police have maintained that calm returned to Ikongo, a town about 350 kilometres (220 miles) south of the capital Antananarivo, on Tuesday, with additional officers deployed ‘to keep the peace’.
An investigation into the incident was ongoing, police said, offering condolences to the families of the dead.
The kidnapping took place last week, according to Jean-Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa, a member of parliament for Ikongo district.
No further details have been released about the child. Officials said the child’s mother was killed by “bandits”.
Four suspects were arrested and taken into custody, but some members of the community allegedly decided to take matters into their own hands.
National police chief Andry Rakotondrazaka defended officers at a press conference Monday, saying they had done everything they could to avoid confrontation and were left with no choice but to resort to self-defence.
He said police moved from firing tear gas to live rounds when the crowd breached a security perimeter.
Madagascar’s Defence Minister Richard Rakotonirina, who visited Ikongo on Tuesday, said the incident needed a more thorough investigation.
A source at the defence ministry said some inmates at the nearby prison took advantage of the commotion to escape.