Police station, Andoany or Hell-Ville harbour, Nosy Be, Madagascar. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xD-ANKA-1807x

More than 10 people have been killed in clashes between police and angry protesters after an albino child was kidnapped in Madagascar. In the small town of Ikongo in the southeast of the island, police officers shot at demonstrators on Monday, according to authorities, when they demanded the release of four suspects arrested for the kidnapping.

A doctor at the local hospital spoke to the AFP news agency of 18 dead and 34 injured, including nine critically injured. The police spoke of eleven dead and 18 injured.

Police arrested four suspects shortly after the kidnapping of the child last week. However, residents of Ikongo demanded their release in order to hold them accountable themselves. According to the police, around 500 people, some armed with machetes, marched to the police station on Monday.

Police officers tried to talk to the demonstrators and prevent a “bloodbath”, said Madagascar’s police chief Andry Rakotondrazaka at a press conference in the capital Antananarivo. The demonstrators then tried to overcome security barriers. According to Rakotondrazaka, the police officers first used tear gas and fired warning shots before shooting at the protesters.

“The police officers had no other choice,” said Rakotondrazaka. They should have resorted to “legitimate self-defence” as a “last resort”. “It’s a very sad event that could have been prevented, but what happened happened.”

MP Jean Brunelle Razafintsiandraofa accused the police of “shooting into the crowd”. He announced that he wanted to request a parliamentary inquiry.