Mob kills 'witches' in Kenya

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A mob killed 11 elderly people in western Kenya on suspicion of witchcraft. The attacks took place in Kisii District in the Nyanza Province in southwest Kenya. All victims were burned, with some having first been dragged from their homes to have their throats slashed and to be clubbed to death. Families of the suspected witches have gone into hiding, fearing additional violence. The mob may have consisted of as many as 300 people.

Nyanza Province in southwest Kenya.
Image: Acntx.

Reports vary regarding the ages of the victims. Deputy police spokseman Charles Owino told the Associated Press that the youngest was 40 years old, and that most were between 70 and 90. BBC News reports that the victims were all between 80 and 96, citing provincial police officer Anthony Kibunguchy.

A Kisii Central district commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu stated the mob used a list to select the victims, who were then accused of bewitching mob members' sons and daughters.

A textbook in a local primary school contained the minutes of an alleged witches's meeting. Belief in witchcraft is widespread in the district, and ostracism and attacks against alleged witches have occurred before. This spree of attacks targeted an unusually large number of people.

People must not take the law into their own hands simply because they suspect someone.

—Mwangi Ngunyi

A government investigation is searching for the perpetrators. Local official Mwangi Ngunyi told Agence France-Presse: "People must not take the law into their own hands simply because they suspect someone."

Reuters reports that the police have drafted extra personnel to prevent revenge attacks, already dealing with tribal killings after the post-election crisis. Officers have expressed concern that little progress could be made to stop the killings, as the villagers would not identify the men involved in the killings.

This story has updates
See 19 Kenyans arrested for 'witch' killings


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