A wave of gruesome horse and pony killings across pastures in France has left police bewildered and rural communities terrified as mysterious murders only escalate.
As many as 30 attacks have been reported in pastures across the country since February, with the most recent on Thursday in the Saône-et-Loire region of central-eastern France.
“All means are in place to put an end to this terror,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie tweeted on Friday.
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Denormandie, who visited the region on Friday, told France-Info that the authorities “are not ruling anything out” in the brutal attacks.
“The ears are cut off, the eyes removed, an animal is emptied of its blood…”, he said, describing the morbid fate of one of the most beloved animals in France.
In many attacks, one ear – usually the correct one – has been cut off, reminiscent of the matador’s trophy in an arena.
No meat is taken from the carcasses and some of the animals have had their genitals cut off.
It’s absolutely barbaric, ”a local official told Reuters earlier this month after an attack in Cortambert, a village in the Saône-et-Loire region.
The attacks took place across the country, from the mountainous Jura region in the east to the Atlantic coast, many this summer, according to Denormandie.
After the first solid sighting of an assailant, law enforcement in Auxerre, Burgundy last week released a composite sketch based on a description of a man who argued with two assailants at his refuge for animals in a village in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. Region.
Nicolas Demajean, who runs the refuge, Ranch of Hope, confronted the two attackers last Monday after being alerted by his squealing pigs.
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He was injured in the arm during a fight with one of the attackers who had a knife, while the other cut the sides of two ponies, now recovering but “traumatized”, he said.
“Before, I had confidence in putting my horses to pasture. Today, I’m scared in my guts, ”Demajean said Thursday on the regional television channel France 3.
The next day, a young pony was targeted in Saône-et-Loire.
A donkey believed to have taken part in past Christmas markets in Paris was killed in a horrific attack in June.
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Many today in France wonder if mutilation is a morbid rite of an unknown cult, a frightening “challenge” relayed by social media or acts of copying. Speculation is rife as to how barbaric acts, some surgical, could be carried out without a solid knowledge of equine anatomy or on a horse in a pasture presumably able to flee.
“We don’t understand the motivation,” a police spokeswoman in Paris told Reuters. “Is it a satanic rite, an insurance fraud, a macabre trophy hunt, or an internet challenge?” We do not know. It’s very traumatic. ”
The mutilation of horses is neither a French nor a new phenomenon. In the 80s and 90s, hundreds of horses in Britain and then in Germany were mutilated. There were also cases in France between 2014 and 2016, according to Reuters.
The high number in a short period of time, including the fact that all types of horses were victims, have drawn the attention of authorities.
The president of the French Equestrian Federation offered on Friday to help police investigate the scattered cases, but the French equestrian world is now afraid of what each new day can bring.
“We are all afraid,” Véronique Dupin, head of an equestrian club in Yvelines west of Paris, told The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.