CAMPBELLTON, N.B. - Two young boys were killed by a python snake as they slept in an apartment above an exotic pet store in northern New Brunswick, the RCMP said Monday.

Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the boys, aged five and seven, were visiting the apartment of a friend above Reptile Ocean Inc. in Campbellton when the incident occurred.

Rogers-Marsh said police arrived at the apartment around 6:30 a.m., at which point officers found the two dead boys.

"It (the snake) had escaped its enclosure at the store sometime through the night, got into the ventilation system and into the upstairs apartment," said Rogers-Marsh. "It's believed the two boys were strangled by the snake."

She said the snake was later captured and is in the possession of police.

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

She said the owner of the reptile store lived in the apartment above.

Calls to the pet store were not returned on Monday but 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.

"Some still don't believe it," said Comeau, who toured the shop with the fire department about two years ago.

Firefighters had to "know where these animals were — alligators, crocodiles and snakes," he said.

"They were there," he said, adding "I'm not a fan of snakes."

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