Two suspected dog thieves were beaten to death in Vietnam by an angry mob that caught them allegedly trying to sell the animals to local restaurants, state media said on Friday.
Police have opened a murder investigation into the killing of the two men, aged 31 and 41, on Wednesday in an impoverished region of central Vietnam.
“Dog thieves must be judged but beating people to death is also a very serious violation of the law,” a criminal police officer in Quang Tri province was quoted as saying by the official Thanh Nien Daily.
“We are investigating these murders in order to punish those responsible,” he added.
Dog meat is a traditional delicacy in Vietnam, usually eaten at the end of the lunar month. Due to its popularity, there has been a spike in reported thefts of pet dogs in rural areas.
The value of the thefts - dog meat fetches around six dollars per kilo - is too low to concern the Vietnamese police and there have been a string of media reports of angry pet-owning mobs taking the law into their own hands.
Restaurant owners say it is hard to know which animals are stolen, and which are farmed for their meat.