A total of 32 people died in an arson attack on Friday in a village in the Malagasy district of Ankazobe, about 100 km west of the capital Antananarivo, Madagascar’s Minister of National Defense Richard Rakotonirina confirmed to the press Saturday.

“Airplanes and helicopters are mobilized to support the ground elements in tracking down the perpetrators of this atrocity which cost the lives of thirty-two people,” the minister said.

A source close to the investigation told Xinhua that four people were also injured in the attack, adding that they were being treated at the hospital in Ankazobe, while one of whom had to be evacuated to Antananarivo.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the victims are made up of seven households, including women and children and even infants. They took refuge on the floor of a house and tried to fight back with stone throwing.

The assailants, armed with three AK-47 assault rifles, one MAS-36 rifle and eight shotguns, burned the house from the ground floor. They locked up the victims and shot at those who tried to escape, said the same source.

Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina on Sunday offered his condolences to the families of the victims and condemned the act. He also announced those who committed the crime are being hunted down and will be punished according to the law in force.

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