By CLARENCE ROY-MACAULAY, Associated Press Writer Mon Apr 24, 11:39 AM ET
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Police hunted Monday for chimpanzees that escaped from a Sierra Leone preserve and mauled a group of American and local sightseers, killing one man and injuring four people.
The U.S. Embassy warned Americans against traveling to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, where the chimps escaped before Sunday’s attack on a taxicab.
The Sierra Leonean driver died as the chimps ripped his body apart, and three Americans were treated at a hospital for minor injuries, said Oliver Somasa, a top police official.
Another Sierra Leonean man in the group had his hand amputated after the mauling, Somasa said. U.S. officials had no further comment. The Americans were in Sierra Leone to help build a new embassy building, Somasa said.
Armed police were searching Monday for 27 chimpanzees, Somasa said, while four others had already returned on their own accord to the reserve.
Somosa said it was unclear why the chimps attacked or how they were able to escape.
Chimpanzee attacks are unusual but not unprecedented.
Two chimps that escaped from their cages in a California sanctuary severely mauled a man in March 2005 before the man’s son-in-law shot the animals to death.