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   CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick (AP) — A python escaped from its enclosure at a pet store in Canada, slithered through a ventilation system into an upstairs apartment and killed two young boys as they slept, police said Monday.

   The boys, ages five and seven, were visiting the apartment of a friend above Reptile Ocean Inc., an exotic pet store in Campbellton, New Brunswick, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Const. Julie Rogers-Marsh.

   Police arrived at the apartment around 6:30 a.m. and found the two boys dead. A friend of the boys was sleeping in another room and was unharmed, Rogers-Marsh said. She said the owner of the pet store lived in the apartment.

   Rogers-Marsh said the snake escaped from its enclosure sometime during the night and was believed to have made its way into the apartment through the ventilation system.

   "It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake," she said.

   The snake was captured and is in the possession of police, Rogers-Marsh said. Calls to the pet store were not returned Monday.

   Rogers-Marsh said autopsies were to be performed on the two victims on Tuesday. She couldn't confirm whether the two boys were related.

   "It's very, very unusual and very tragic and difficult for everyone involved," Rogers-Marsh said.

   The town's deputy mayor, Ian Comeau, said Reptile Ocean was licensed to operate and "everything was according to our bylaws, to the provincial guidelines."

   The deaths of the boys have been "a shock ... it is unbelievable," Comeau said Monday evening. Comeau said he saw alligators, crocodiles and snakes when he toured the shop with the fire department about two years ago.

 

___

 

Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Published in National News

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