Bolivian villagers use poisonous ants to punish and almost kill alleged thieves

The two teenagers were set free after their families paid for motorbikes they had allegedly stolen

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The Independent US

Residents of a Bolivian village almost killed two alleged thieves after they tied them to a tree which was swarming with venomous ants as a punishment.

The two men aged 18 and 19 were attacked after they allegedly stole three motorcycles from a village, according to the Bolivian authorities.

One of the men remained in intensive care, while the other suffered kidney failure and required dialysis, Dr Roberto Paz told reporters in the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

The villagers of Ayopaya held the two men for nearly three days. They were freed on Saturday after their relatives paid £2,200 as compensation for the motorcycles, a sister of one of the men told Radio Fides.

Otherwise, she said, the pair would have been killed.

The poisonous ants, of the pseudomyrmex triplarinus species, live interdependently with triplaris trees.

Their venom, which has anti-inflammatory properties, is used as a traditional treatment for arthritis.

Additional reporting by PA