Toxic biscuits kill 14 monkeys in India

KOLKATA - Fourteen monkeys have died after snatching and then eating biscuits laced with rat poison in eastern India, officials said Monday.

The troop of 16 langurs grabbed the biscuits from a local hawker as he tried to sell them in the eastern state of West Bengal but fell violently ill soon afterwards on Sunday.

"Immediately after devouring the biscuits, 14 of them died on the spot and two were admitted to a veterinary hospital," state forest ranger Shyamal Mukherjee told AFP, adding that an autopsy was being conducted.

Police have opened a criminal investigation against the hawker who fled in the aftermath of the deaths.

Though revered in the majority Hindu nation, monkeys are a major menace, often trashing gardens, office and residential rooftops and even viciously attacking people for food.

Concerns about India's rising monkey population prompted parliamentary authorities to recently hire a group of actors to impersonate giant monkeys and scare away smaller simians who had been terrifying lawmakers.