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msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/17/2011 7:27:41 AM ET 2011-10-17T11:27:41

A circus elephant trampled to death a girl who was attempting to feed it, police in Vietnam said Monday.

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Police officer Pham Ngoc Tien of Lao Cai province said the elephant was part of a troupe from Hanoi on a 10-day tour of the province. The animal was tied to a chain in the fenced backyard of a cultural center when it was not performing.

Tien said Monday that the 11-year-old girl and several other children had entered its enclosure. The girl was feeding the elephant when it lifted her up with its trunk, threw her to the ground and trampled her repeatedly.

Police officer Phan Van Quang told AFP that Nguyen Thao Anh was offering the elephant sugarcane. "She was trampled to death on the spot", he added.

Nguyen Xuan Quang, deputy director of the Vietnam Circus Federation, reportedly said that children had been teasing the animal prior to Sunday's incident. Speaking to AFP, Quang added that the victim's father was talking on the phone at the time.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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