Police in France have launched a murder investigation after an 11-year-old boy was found stabbed to death in the street. He had apparently been stabbed 40 times. The boy's injuries were so serious that paramedics initially thought he had been attacked by a wild animal.

But a medical examiner told police in Lagnieu, in eastern France, that the wounds had been inflicted with a knife-like instrument.

The victim has only been named publicly as Valentin.

Prosecutor Jean-Paul Gandoliere said the boy had been stabbed about 40 times in the throat, body and arms.

"Three of the blows are more than 10 centimeters (four inches) deep," he said. "The thesis of a crime is now being followed."

Valentin, who was staying with the new partner of his mother in Lagnieu, about 30 miles northeast of Lyon, was out playing on his bicycle when he disappeared on Monday evening.

The body was found at about midnight. Police said no suspects had been detained

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