Three Italian women were brutally attacked while on a surfing holiday at a Cape Verde resort island, dragged into the woods, and left for dead at the bottom of a hole, according to the single survivor who recounted the tragedy today.
When she eventually regained consciousness, the teenager said, she crawled out of the hole and went for help. The two women with her, aged 28 and 33, had been stoned to death.
The story of the attack, which occurred on Friday, has shocked Italians, many of whom consider the islands of the west coast of Africa to be a holiday paradise for beachgoers and windsurfers.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi, on a government trip to India, was reported to be “stunned, aghast” according to the Italian news agency Apcom.
The Italian Foreign Ministry said the two women had been “barbarously murdered” and dispatched a diplomat from its embassy in Dakar, Senegal, “to ensure that those responsible for this tragic aggression are brought swiftly to justice”.
The survivor – whom Italian news reports described as a 17-year-old named Agnese – suffered fractures and needed 18 stitches in her head, according to Italy’s honorary consul in Cape Verde, Luigi Zirpoli.
The ministry said she was taken to hospital on the Island of Sal, where the attack took place.
The bodies of the two other women were found half-buried near a Fontona area beach on Friday afternoon, island police officer Vladmir Silva said.
Cape Verde police chief Oscar Tavares said three local men had been arrested in connection with the murders and would soon appear in court, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. Tavares could not immediately be reached for details.
Agnese spoke on Saturday from the Cape Verde hospital, recounting how the 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 them with some kind of “bothersome” spray, immobilised them and took them to the woods where a hole had been dug.
Then “he did what he did”, Agnese said, speaking in a stunned voice and apparently referring to a sexual attack. She said they were then pelted with stones, and then 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 said.
The three young women were part of a surfing group that arrived on February 4 on the island and were due to leave Sunday, Zirpoli said.