Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Two Italian women were stoned to death in West Africa

Frances D'Emilio:

Three Italian women were brutally attacked while vacationing on a resort island off the coast of West Africa, dragged into the woods, pelted with stones and left for dead at the bottom of a hole, the sole survivor said Saturday.

The bodies of two of the women were found half-buried near a beach Friday in the Cape Verde islands, police officer Vladmir Silva said.

Preliminary autopsy results found the victims, aged 28 and 33, died as a result of head injuries from blunt and sharp objects, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. Cape Verde police said official autopsy results were expected to be released Sunday.

Police chief Oscar Tavares said three local men had been arrested and would soon appear in court, Lusa reported.

The women were part of a surfing group that arrived in the islands last Sunday for a weeklong vacation, said Italy's honorary consul in Cape Verde, Luigi Zirpoli. The survivor — whom Italian news reports identified as a 17-year-old named Agnese — suffered fractures and needed 18 stitches in her head, Zirpoli said.

Speaking with Italy's Sky TG24 TV from a hospital Saturday, Agnese recounted how she and the two other women had been invited to dinner by one of their attackers — a man who apparently had had a relationship with one of the victims.

She said the attackers sprayed the women with something and immobilized them before taking them to the woods where a hole had been dug in the ground. Speaking in a stunned voice, she said they were pelted with stones and she blacked out. When she awoke, she climbed out of the hole and walked down a road until she found help.

"I don't know how I managed to recover after he threw a stone at my head," she told Sky.

The story of the attack has shocked Italians, many of whom consider the archipelago a paradise for beachgoers and windsurfers.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said the two women had been "barbarously murdered" and dispatched a diplomat from its embassy in Senegal "to ensure that those responsible for this tragic aggression are brought swiftly to justice."

Italian Premier Romano Prodi said he was "stunned" and "aghast" by the killings, the Italian news agency Apcom reported.

Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony, is located about 500 miles to the west of Senegal's capital, Dakar, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Woman possibly buried alive


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