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15 horses are mutilated across France as police hunt mystery attackers

French police are hunting a twisted group of criminals who have been mutilating live horses and taking their body parts.

At least 15 attacks on horses and donkeys have been reported in the country since the start of the year, most recently in the countryside near Lyon.

Officers have not announced any suspects or motive, but speculate the attacks could be part of a twisted fetish, sadistic ritual, or online ‘challenge’.

On Monday a mare which had previously died of natural causes was found with its nose, ear, and one eye removed in the Jura region.

It comes after a horse in the same region was stunned before having its eye gouged out and a piece of bone removed. The animal later died.

The local gendarmerie have since issued an appeal for information on anyone seen acting suspiciously near paddocks, breeding farms or equestrian centres.

‘These cases are taken very seriously and are being investigated by the Jura police,’ they wrote on Facebook.

‘Every effort is made to identify the authors and put an end to such actions.’

The attacks date back to at least February this year, when a horse was found dead at an agricultural school in Château-Salins, near the Alsace region.

One of the horses’s ears had been ‘meticulously’ removed, France Bleu reported. 

A few days later, across the other side of the country, a racehorse was found dead with an ear missing in the Vendée region, south of Nantes. 

Owner Philippe Boutin told Channel 3 that there were signs of a struggle in the field, and that it would have taken a team of people to bring the horse down.  

The attacks have increased in recent weeks, with at least five incidents reported since the start of the month.

The attacks are not specific to a region, and have been reported across the east, west and north of the country.

In 2016, a similar case of mutilation was reported in Belgium when a horse had its ear cut off, while another case occurred in France in 2014 at Usson-en-Forez.

Cases have also been reported in the UK dating back as far as 2002, with police linking one attack in Cornwall in 2012 to Satanic rituals. 

Police in Roanne near Lyon, where the most recent case was discovered, told AFP they had linked the latest horse mutilation to ‘about 15 other mysterious acts of torture and mutilations of live horses around France these last weeks.’

‘Is this a challenge on the internet? The impulse of an individual? All avenues are being investigated,’ Bruno Wallart of the police in Riom in the Puy-de-Dome region of central France, where several horses have reportedly been mutilated, said in June.

Local investigations are backed by the Central Office on the Fight against Threats to Environmental and Public Health of the French national police.

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