- Police in France are looking for the perpetrators behind more than a dozen horse mutilations across the country, in what they believe may be part of a satanic ritual or a savage online challenge.
- The attacks, which have been going on for weeks, usually involve removing the animals' eyes and ears or injuring their genitals.
- Police, who have found a small wooden sculpture believed to be a "voodoo doll" at the site of one of the attacks, consider the killings may be part of a satanic ritual or an online challenge.
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French police are looking for the perpetrators behind a series of horse mutilations across the country, which they believe may be part of a satanic ritual or an online challenge.
The attacks have been happening over the last few weeks, with perpetrators killing and mutilating a least 19 horses and ponies in different regions across the country.
The animals are usually found with their ears and eyes removed, or with severe injuries to their genitals.
In one incident, the owner of a ranch in Burgundy — home to 100 abandoned or rescued animals — came face to face with the attackers.
Nicolas Demajean, the ranch's president, said he awoke up the loud squeals of two pigs one night to find that two men had broken into the property.
When he confronted one of the intruders with his walking stick, he was slashed along his left forearm with a knife.
"I didn't think about being afraid at the time, I was just worried about the animals, but I'm on edge now," he said, according to the Guardian. "I set one of our dogs on them but they ran off. We found they'd cut two of the ponies and a horse."
"I don't know why, but they came here to kill, that's for sure. It seems to be some kind of ritual. This is a really quiet village. We never for one minute imagined it would happen here," Demajean added.
Demajean also said that the attackers "spoke words in a language I couldn't understand," but thinks the accent was from Eastern Europe.
Police, who have found a small wooden sculpture believed to be a "voodoo doll" at the site of one of the attacks, said that "the hunt for the culprits is now a priority," the Telegraph reported.
A police spokesperson said: "We don't understand what is behind this. Is it a satanic rite, some macabre trophy hunt, or an internet challenge? We just don't know. It's very traumatizing," according to the Guardian.
Authorities have since released an identikit picture of a suspect.
The spokesperson said there were similar attacks in France, Belgium, and Germany between 2014 and 2016.
France's agriculture minister, Julien Denormandie, visited a riding school in central France on Friday, targeted in one of the attacks.
"Justice will be done," he said, according to the Telegraph.
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