Police in France have launched a manhunt for two suspects after the latest in a spate of horse mutilations.
Forty officers have flown by helicopter to the town of Losne, near Dijon, after a horse was attacked on Sunday morning.
Dozens of horses have been killed or maimed around the country this year, prompting public outcry.Police do not know why the animals are being targeted, nor whether it is the work of one person, or if initial attacks have inspired copycat killings.
During the latest incident, the horse’s owner called police at around 02:00 local time (01:00 BST) on Sunday after seeing lamp lights in his meadow.
The Dijon prosecutor’s office told local media that the horse had been injured in its flank, although the injury was not very severe.
More than 30 other cases have been reported in France, with horses being left with their ears and genitals cut off. Another was found disembowelled.As part of their investigation into one attack in Yonne, north-west of Dijon, last month, police released an artist’s impression of an alleged perpetrator spotted at the scene.
Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie later pledged that those responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice.”All branches of the state are mobilising to get justice done,” said Mr Denormandie during a visit to Saint-Eusèbe, in central France, where a horse’s ear had recently been cut off.”There is clearly a professionalism, people acting with a certain level of technique,” he added.
Serge Lecomte, president of the French Equestrian Federation, accompanied Mr Denormandie during the visit.”It is cruel savagery of a kind we have rarely seen before,” he told AFP. “Is it a cult? Cruelty towards animals is the precursor to cruelty towards humans”.