DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – A herd of wild elephants rampaged through a village in southeastern Bangladesh early Thursday, killing five members of one family, including two children, police said.

The victims were asleep in their thatched hut when the elephants trampled them.

to death at Bashkhali village in Chittagong district, said police chief Zahirul Islam.

A herd of about 12 elephants had been foraging in a nearby forest when they approached the village, 136 miles southeast of the capital of Dhaka, and destroyed more than a dozen huts, Islam said.

Villagers used torches to scare the animals away, he said.

It was not clear what sparked the rampage. Several hundred elephants make their homes in Bangladesh’s tropical forests, but their habitat has been reduced in recent years due to human development. That occasionally causes elephants to invade residential areas for food, according to a Bangladeshi wildlife expert.

Ainun Nishat, a representative of the IUCN-The World Conservation Union, told The Associated Press that elephants sometimes wander into residential areas looking for food, but usually do not attack “without a valid reason.”

“Maybe once the area was a source of food, or somebody from the localities had caused injuries to one of the elephants,” Nishat said, adding that elephants have “very sharp” memories. He said elephants often become angry when they find homes or other establishments where they once used to roam.

About 30 to 40 wild elephants live in nearby forests, Nishat said. The country has about 250 wild elephants in its forests, he said.


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