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26 wild horses shot dead in southern Greece; motive unclear

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — More than two dozen wild horses have been killed with shotguns on a remote mountainside in southern Greece, but the motive for the attack remains unclear, police said Monday.

The 26 dead horses were first discovered Thursday on rugged slopes of the 2,376-meter (7,795-foot) Mount Cyllene, 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Athens.

Police Maj. Constantine Vragalis of the southern Peloponnese Police directorate told The Associated Press that 23 horses were found dead and three other horses that were injured also later died.

The horses were privately owned, but were allowed to roam wild in the region, police said.

"They were killed using shotguns. There are probably a few more injured horses that won't make it," said Paraskevi Bekiari, granddaughter of the horses' owner, 70-year-old retired farmer Constantine Litsas.

"We believe it was someone local, but we have no proof to make any specific accusation ... We haven't taken my grandfather up the mountain to see what happened. He is quite upset," Bekiari said from the nearby village of Goura.

She said several of her grandfather's horses had been killed in a similar attack two years ago.

Greece's Animal Welfare Association called on Greece's new left-wing government to take a tougher line on cruelty to animals.

"In general, there is a very bad attitude toward the treatment of animals in this country. Our laws are outdated and those that exist are nor enforced," said the association's chairman, Anastasia Bobolaki.

"Thousands of animals are poisoned every year."

Vassilis Meidanis, head of an animal welfare group in the southern city of Corinth, said there are several hundred wild horses in the area where the attack occurred, most descended from abandoned farm animals.

"The people responsible for these kind of attacks are usually people who mistakenly believe that their grazing land will be affected or have a quarrel with the owner," he said.

"Unfortunately, in the Greek countryside, disputes involving animals are usually resolved with a shotgun."


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