Armed with knives, some knowledge of their prey, and a large dose of cruelty, attackers are going after horses and ponies in pastures across France in what may be ritual mutilations, the AP reports. Police are stymied by the macabre attacks that include slashings and worse. Most often, an ear—usually the right one—has been cut off, recalling the matador's trophy in a bullring. Up to 30 attacks have been reported in France, from the mountainous Jura region in the east to the Atlantic coast, many this summer, the agriculture minister said Friday. One attack was registered in February, according to the newsmagazine Le Point. With each attack, the mystery only seems to grow. "We are excluding nothing," Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said Friday.
"Ears are cut off, eyes removed, an animal is emptied of its blood ...," he said, spelling out the morbid fates befalling the animals. "All means are in motion to end this terror." After the first solid sighting of an attacker, gendarmes in Auxerre, in Burgundy, released a composite sketch this week based on a description by a man who wrangled with two attackers at his animal refuge in a village in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region. In France, theories abound as to whether the mutilations are a morbid rite of an unknown cult, a chilling "challenge" relayed by social media or copycat acts. Speculation is widespread as to how barbaric acts, some surgical, could be perpetrated without solid knowledge of equine anatomy or on a horse in a pasture presumably able to flee.
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