Local police forces across France are investigating incidents where at least 15 horses have been tortured, mutilated and killed in a string of attacks which appear to be related. The animal abuse does not seem to be a random act as all the animals killed have had one of their ears removed. Police are struggling to capture the offenders as the attacks have occurred in remote areas. Horse breeders and owners have been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspicious incidents.

A horse which had died of natural causes was left in the fields by its owner on Friday, August 14. The body was supposed to be removed later to be disposed of properly. On Monday, August 17 when the owner went to check on the corpse, he noticed that it had been mutilated. The horse had one eye, one ear and its nose was also missing. It seemed to have been mutilated overnight.

The owner alerted the police in Roanne, France. Authorities believe that the incident is similar to the 15 other attacks on live horses across the country. l'Office Central de Lutte Contre les Atteintes à l'Environnement et à la Santé Publique (OCLAESP) and national police are aiding local police to solve the acts of animal cruelty.

In August alone, there have already been incidents leading to the deaths of two horses.

According to The Connexion, a foal was found tortured and mutilated on August 8 in Cluny, Saône-et-Loire. The owners of the foal claim that they saw the animal alive and well the night before the killing. The next morning it was found dead. The animal had been stabbed in the heart and had an ear, eye and its genitals removed.

On August 14, another horse was found dead in a similar manner in Jura. The horse had been brutally killed and had body parts removed. A donkey was also reportedly murdered and mutilated in France this year.

Similar acts of abuse had been reported in 2014 and 2016. However, those reports were isolated incidents unlike the string of abuse this year.

A national police spokesperson stated that the incidents could be an act of Satanic ritual, insurance fraud, trophy hunting or even some sick internet challenge. The police are unsure of the exact motivation of the attackers. Equestrian owners have been told to remain alert. If they notice something suspicious, they have been asked to contact the police instead of trying to intervene as the attackers are likely armed.

Floods in Southern Spain
Horses being tortured and killed in France could be due to some ritual or internet challenge. (representational image) Reuters