Rome confirms Italian lynched in Madagascar

Rome confirms Italian lynched in Madagascar
Tourist attraction: Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome

ROME - Rome confirmed on Friday that an Italian was lynched by an angry mob on a Madagascar tourist island which also killed a French citizen and a local man in a grisly rampage.

"I can confirm the Italian nationality of the victim but not his identity, the corpse was burnt," a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that identity documents had been found with the body. The three men were killed and burnt in a day-long rampage on Thursday on the tourist island of Nosy Be by residents who suspected them of murdering a young boy for his organs.

Nosy Be lies just off the northern tip of the vast Indian Ocean island. "Rioters launched a manhunt and killed the Europeans," in the early hours of Thursday morning after a missing eight-year-old was reportedly found dead, gendarmerie commander Guy Bobin Randriamaro told AFP. Local police commissioner Honoya Tilahizandry said the men "were killed and burnt on Ambatoloaka beach", a popular palm-fringed stand ringed by bars and hotels.

Gory pictures taken after the lynching showed a mound of ash, wood and iron bars, with a torso and pair of charred legs the only recognisable remains. "They suspected the two foreigners of being behind the murder and trafficking human organs," said the gendarmerie's Randriamaro.

The two men "confessed under torture to having trafficked organs", he added. Hours later in a nearby suburb, a Malagasy was also killed, as mobs of hundreds of men roamed the streets setting fires.

According to an AFP correspondent, the victim was dragged from a vehicle and his body thrown onto a fire.

In Paris, foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said "two foreigners have died and we have confirmation that at least one of them is French". The Frenchman had a 60-day tourism visa and his passport indicated he was a frequent visitor to the island nation.

Ramanamahafahy said an ministerial delegation had arrived on the island for a meeting with local leaders before visiting the family of the dead child as well as of the "two people shot dead."

Until now authorities had confirmed only one person had been shot dead when paramilitary police opened fire on protesters on Wednesday night.

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