A woman has died after being tied to a tree infested with poisonous ants by vigilantes who mistakenly believed that she had stolen a car. The 52 year old woman was still alive when she was rescued by police officers, but she later died in hospital as a result of breathing problems after her throat swelled because it was bitten by the insects.
The woman was trying to rescue her son, who had been tied up by an angry mob, who believed they had tried to steal a car in Bolivia. Her daughter was also tied up but both she and her brother survived the ordeal.
According to local reports, the family was also beaten up and burnt during the New Year’s Eve attack. Images have emerged showing two people who have been blindfolded and tied to the tree. Police say that an initial probe has found the victim and her two children, aged 22 and 28, had travelled to the area to recover a debt which was owed to them.
However, they ended up being bound to a Palo Santo tree, renowned as being the home of colonies of the Brazilian fire ant. Gunter Agudo, the local police chief, said his officers had managed to rescue all three family members, but that the mother had to be taken to hospital because she was in a “bad way”.
Police say they are treating the incident as murder and serious assault. So far, one arrest has been made in connection with inciting people to commit the act. The suspect is currently being held in custody awaiting a court appearance. The family’s lawyer said that it was likely the victim’s windpipe had been bitten by ants, causing inflammation so severe that she could not breathe. The ants are venomous, causing intense burning and swelling where they bite.