No fewer than 33 hoodlums have been reported killed by security forces and locals in Ihorombe region of Madagascar on Tuesday.

The bandits are part of the about 40 armed thieves who drove away 200 heads of cattle belonging to the local communities.

The security operatives and the local communities engaged the cattle rustlers in a clash that lasted for hours leading to the killing of 33.

Banditry remains a major security concern in several parts of Madagascar.

According to Africa Review, various media have reported an increase in the criminal activities of well-armed groups of young men, known as dahalo or malaso (‘bandits’ in Malagasy).

The groups have lately started to combine their ‘traditional’ cattle raidings with attacks on hotels, private houses, trucks and taxi brousse (bush taxis).

The issue of banditry has become the testing ground for all recent governments, which have tried – with little success – to reinforce their presence in regions where they have never been able to exert full political control.

Former mayor Fanomezantsoa Hariniaina lamented the rise in banditry, saying it was driving huge populations into the urban areas.

People were deserting their villages to avoid getting into trouble with bandits, Mr Hariniaina said.